In this series, Talk data to me, we chat with leaders from the world’s biggest brands and agencies about how they’re using insights to drive their business strategies.
We caught up with Mahmoud Shammout, head of research & insights for TikTok for business in the METAP region, to get his thoughts on the cookieless future, why we should think of threats as opportunities, and data-led creativity.
Tell us a bit about your role.
My role is to empower brands to make key strategic and tactical decisions based on data-driven insights, getting them closer to consumers so they can create lasting relationships with one of the most engaged audiences in the world.
What’s keeping you busy at the moment?
Shopping. We’re currently working on revealing why people shop. We’re trying to understand the different triggers across shopping categories and how brands can change consumer needs into evolved wants, even if that comes with a slightly higher price tag.
What’s your favorite stat in the whole wide world?
It’s about the power of inspiration: nearly 2 in 3 shoppers say they often or sometimes get inspired to buy something even when they’re not actively shopping.
And TikTok’s experience is built to amplify inspiration – its video-first, native style, and sound-on format leads to more impulsive purchases and higher spending when compared to other channels.1
Talk to me about an example of data-led creativity that you love.
Earlier this year, we identified what really works on TikTok creatively, layered with over 13,000 paid media insights and brand metrics. The result was something we called “Triple A Storytelling”, which is a format designed to answer three questions from the consumer’s point of view:
- Why am I here? This is about grabbing attention, perhaps by showing that the brand has an exciting story to tell.
- Why should I stay? This is about driving anticipation, so for example, someone might want to know more about a product/service.
- What should I do? This is about action, for example, does the brand want me to co-create and participate in the conversation?
How do data and the use of audience insights inform your business strategy? And how does it give you a competitive edge?
The TikTok community is the essence of our business strategy. Communities come together to share and create, as well as inspire others to co-create content themselves. This leads to a snowball effect, and brands don’t even have to do all the heavy lifting themselves.
That’s because the TikTok community is all about creation. In fact, we boast the highest ratio of creators-to-viewers of any platform – which means there are creators in pretty much every industry or sector a brand might want to reach.
What’s the most interesting thing about your audience?
There’s so much that I could tell you about TikTok’s amazing users, but I’ll stick with a few highlights.
62% of online shoppers make an impulse purchase at least once a month, rising to 70% among TikTok users.
This number is ten percentage points higher than the average for the top five global digital media services that GWI tracks (excluding TikTok).
Inspiration plays a big part in this. Over a third of impulse buyers say one of the most common reasons they make unplanned purchases is because it’s fun to discover/buy new things, a number that, again, peaks among TikTok users (41%).
According to GWI’s Core survey, it’s true that TikTok is a home for Gen Z (over two-thirds of Gen Z are on TikTok), but the user base is spread across age groups, and 77% of TikTok users in this part of the world are 25 and above.2
What will be the biggest threat to your sector in the coming years?
I’d like to change “threats” to “opportunities”. When discussing the digital world, we tend to get carried away with technologies, but we need to remember they’re really just tools, and what matters is the marketplace of supply and demand.
To do that, we need to go back to the fundamentals of growing an economy; who are you solving for, and what are their needs/demands? In other words, brands need to re-focus on the consumer. So to answer the question, the opportunity lies in platforms and technology that are consumer-centric – like TikTok.
What’s your take on the cookieless future?
Historically, brands have always focussed on who their target audience is. But it’s now time to stop thinking about the who and start considering the what instead, as in what interests our audience?
The TikTok model allows brands to engage with groups with common interests and not just shared demographics. It’s an opportunity for all brands to build trust with meaningful, authentic, and relevant content that ultimately drives purchasing.
What top trend are you seeing emerge in your wider industry?
Live commerce. It’s already gaining momentum in East Asia, and we anticipate seeing its impact strengthen soon, considering the evolution of consumers’ needs and how they’re constantly looking for more convenient ways to shop.
Consumers want to experience a product before they make a purchase, and live commerce is a great way for brands to mimic the in-store experience, giving consumers the opportunity to see live reviews and ask questions.
- TikTok Marketing Science 2022
- GWI Core H1 2022, Saudi Arabia/UAE