‘Where did I get my top? TikTok!’ How shopping went social – and hooked a new generation

  • August 8, 2023
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From a sweetshop in Stevenage to good old Marks & Spencer, British businesses are using live events to spice up their online businesses. And the money is pouring in …

Zainab Hakim finds it tiring to go to the shops but thinks she might be addicted to shopping. She’s a 23-year-old receptionist from Birmingham, and doesn’t visit the high street to buy clothes – she watches sellers livestream on the social media site TikTok, peddling their wares in real time. With a couple of clicks, she can buy things via the app. “I probably have an addiction at this point,” she says. “I just get sucked in.”

At any time of day, you can scroll through TikTok Live and see someone selling all sorts of things – from clothes to fitness equipment to toys to sweets, cakes, crystals and coffee mugs. One afternoon in 2022, Hakim bought eight items from eight sellers. “It’s things you don’t even need,” she says. Recently, she bought a kitchen gadget that spiralises potatoes, simply because “it looked cool”. She especially likes buying clothes because, “You can ask them to show you the material and they’ll bring it up close to the camera so you get an idea of what you’re buying.”

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