Study: TikTok loses popularity as ecommerce search engine

Fewer U.S. adults are beginning their product searches on TikTok than a year ago, according to a CivicScience study.

Why we care. This is the latest evidence that Amazon is a platform that retail brands must pay attention to. While TikTok intends to build a $20 billion ecommerce business, the U.S. won’t be a big factor yet – and may never be. Regardless, marketing and advertising budgets will continue to follow users. But ultimately it comes down to whether TikTok is an effective platform for your brand.

Product Search Starting Point Survey

Amazon and Google reign. Overall, the starting point for product searches among online shoppers is Amazon (49%, up from 46% in 2022), followed by Google (34%, down from 35% in 2022).

Amazon also increased its popularity among younger age groups, compared to last year:

  • 18- to 24-year-olds: Up 45%
  • 25- to 34-year-olds: Up 44%.

Additional context. These results are similar to another U.S. survey we reported on in Amazon beats Google as starting point for product search. That survey found 38% of shoppers began product searches on Amazon, while 35% started searching on Google.

TikTok’s YoY decline. After hitting a new high in 2022, CivicScience noted a “steep decline” for TikTok among younger generations this year:

  • “Usage fell from 18% to 11% among Gen Z (18-24) and from 10% to 5% among young Millennials (25-34) from August 2022 to June 2023.”

Most people who start their product searches on TikTok, Instagram or Reddit are between the ages of 18-34, CivicScience noted.

About the study. The CivicScience study asked U.S. online shoppers: “When shopping for a product online, where do you typically start for product searches and research?” It then compared 5,638 responses received between June 6 and 26 to 4,643 responses from August 2022.

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About the author

Danny Goodwin

Danny Goodwin has been Managing Editor of Search Engine Land & Search Marketing Expo – SMX since 2022. He joined Search Engine Land in 2022 as Senior Editor. In addition to reporting on the latest search marketing news, he manages Search Engine Land’s SME (Subject Matter Expert) program. He also helps program U.S. SMX events.

Goodwin has been editing and writing about the latest developments and trends in search and digital marketing since 2007. He previously was Executive Editor of Search Engine Journal (from 2017 to 2022), managing editor of Momentology (from 2014-2016) and editor of Search Engine Watch (from 2007 to 2014). He has spoken at many major search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his expertise by a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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