TikTok has proved its far more than a lockdown one hit wonder. Even after lockdown had eased in the UK and countries around the world have started to settle into a ‘new normal’, TikTok is still dictating trends, providing a much needed space for Gen Z’s escapism, and helping more brands than ever go viral on the platform.
Whilst we might believe that TikTok lends itself better to some brands more than others, we’ve discovered that more unorthodox brands have driven real results from utilising TikTok’s talented creators, tools and behaviours in their favour.
At Fanbytes by Brainlabs, we have our very own secret weapon that gives us unparalleled access to TikTok data to inform our clients’ strategies and deliver important insights that will help us understand the platform better.
This industry-leading in-house TikTok analytics tool allows us to successfully analyse hashtags, content, and accounts from various different niches, and create comprehensive reports on the overall performance of them. What’s more, this data helps us identify and predict trends before they even happen, making it our own little time machine.
We leveraged this tool to assemble some of the insights from this article. Want to find out who’s on our list for the most inspiring unlikely brands to win Gen Z’s stamp of approval on TikTok? Keep on reading.
3 Unlikely Brands Winning Gen Z’s Stamp Of Approval On TikTok:
It’s not everyday you are entertained and delighted by a men’s grooming tool on TikTok, but @Manscaped is here to change that. They’ve made waves from ‘de-tabooing’ the world of men’s grooming through educating consumers on their products through humour.
At Fanbytes by Brainlabs, we swear by the ‘make TikToks, not ads’ approach for our clients; leveraging TikTok-friendly formats and trends that we know users love and applying it to brand content. Manscaped do this very well - as you can see from a screenshot pulled from our Bytesights tool below, they’ve seen a 16.1% increase in followers and an above average engagement rate of 15.42% across their content.
They also have a central figure throughout all of their content, giving their profile the ‘brand stamp’ it needs so that users can automatically identify within a few seconds of watching their videos that it’s a ‘manscaped’ TikTok.
This is one of their highest engaged posts with a 20.18% engagement rate. They tap into Snapchat culture, with the text meme ‘snaps you’d get if we were dating’ whilst simultaneously poking fun at the stereotypical ‘TikTok boy’ who bites his lip and performs a ‘thirst trap’. Following this, the video shares very candid self-deprecating text memes which users loved, given the amount of positive comments under the video.
@manscapedswipe right♬ Instagram benvelazquezzz - ʙᴇɴᴊᴀᴍɪɴ
Self-deprecation is a staple in Gen Z humour as it makes them appear offbeat or quirky. We’ve seen many brands try to make themselves relevant by utilising self-deprecating memes but most come across self-unaware and get ridiculed. @Manscaped is a brand who does it well and Gen Z says so.
This is another highly engaged post with a huge 28.74% engagement rate. They leverage the native TikTok feature called ‘duets’ here to blend in with the TikTok feed and captioned it: “POV: you’re asked to come on stage at the local library’s talent show”. The term ‘POV’ is common TikTok terminology adopted by users across the TikTok universe and helps position Manscaped as TikTok-friendly and a brand who is dedicated to learning and embracing the nuances of the platform and its users.
@manscapedPOV: you’re asked to come on stage at the local library’s talent show @christinebarger♬ Whats Your Talent - Christine Barger
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is a leading professional accountancy body. However, despite being at the forefront of accounting qualifications, ACCA has had a major challenge when it comes to attracting younger audiences. Having felt that their positioning comes across as ‘dull’, ‘boring’, ‘elitist’ and ‘exclusive’ to Gen Z, ’ACCA came to Fanbytes by Brainlabs for a fresh and exciting approach to their youth marketing.
A core part of their brief was to drive sign ups to their online event in partnership with The Guardian. This event, called ‘Breaking the Class Ceiling’, was a free event in which a panel of experts discussed how to improve the representation of different socio-economic backgrounds in certain careers such as accounting.
To fulfil the brief, we chose TikTok influencers from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds. We wanted people who didn’t look like the ‘typical’ accountants; people who would fit the mould and break down stereotypes.
One of our most engaged influencers was @deafimmy who put together an uplifting and empowering piece which inspired others with disabilities to attend this event, as well as
doing a job interview roleplay with her mum. She received a vast number of positive comments from users with disabilities, saying how they had struggled with their own career paths and how they were going to attend the event.
@deafimmyDisability doesn’t stop you! Event link in my bio. ACCA AD♬ original sound - Deaf Girl with Rainbow Hair
Another great example comes from @gelikanu who often posts about careers and university, and so was a perfect addition to this campaign. She also comes from a disadvantaged background herself so was able to create a piece of content about social mobility that really spoke to her followers.
We reached and engaged Gen Z on their native platform of TikTok with a disruptive activation. We over-achieved the KPI of 1 million views with 1.5 million views and had a high number of comments and interactions with our influencers from their Gen Z audience. What’s more, we achieved nearly 10K click throughs to the event page on Eventbrite. This was the highest number of sign-ups for a Guardian event, and are now their go-to Gen Z partner and working on another event for ACCA off the back of this success.
M&S entered the TikTok scene with none other than the bio “This is not just any Tik Tok page..” (i know you finished that sentence off in your head). Leveraging the reputation of their infamous Percy Pig, tapping into #FoodTikTok and responding to viral trends and news, M&S food have successfully driven 101k followers, over 1.5 million likes and a 14.58% engagement rate on their profile.
Let’s begin with the obvious profile-hook: Percy Pig. What a lot of unorthodox brands don’t realise when they get on TikTok is that they don’t have to completely reinvent themselves to win the hearts of its users. It’s as simple as taking something people already know and perhaps, love, about your brand and applying it in a way that works for the behaviours and content on the app.
Take this video as an example - it is one of the most engaged videos on their profile, boasting a 25.78% engagement rate. They took a viral sound (397.3k videos) which users incorporated into their videos to share their glow ups and shared a before and after picture of Percy Pig. This went down a treat and drove 651.5k views and 163.1k likes.
@mandsfoodThis is not just any glow up... 🐷 #percypig♬ original sound - M&S Food
This video also performed well with a 18.29% engagement rate. They share their new Percy Pig pancakes by layering them up and decorating them to share with their audience. This was a good move as they tapped into an increasingly popular community of food enthusiasts on the app. #FoodTikTok has 14.9 billion views and TikTok has responsible for the recipes such as #DalgonaCoffee, #FetaPasta, #TortillaTrend and #pestoeggs to go viral.
@mandsfoodPERCY. PIG. PANCAKES 🐷 🥞 Here’s some flippin’ good news. Perfectly pink Percy-flavoured pancakes, smothered in our Percy Pig dessert sauce.♬ original sound - M&S Food
Ultimately, M&S Food’s success has come from capitalising on one of their biggest brand identifiers amongst a younger audience, Percy Pig, as well as jumping on viral trends and tapping into engaged communities.
Time and time again, TikTok has shown how impactful it can be in driving results for all types of brands. These brands may not have been deemed Gen Z-friendly straight off the bat but managed to make waves and win their hearts. The same can happen for you, as long as you’re doing the work to understand your audience better and the trends on the platform. Every Tuesday, we send out a TikTok trends newsletter where we reveal the top 3 trends going viral on TikTok every week, and discuss why it’s a trend and how brands can utilise them. To access these insights, click here to sign up.