HotToks: Black Friday Numbers, Hailey Beiber's Erewhon Smoothies, and TikTok "Algospeak"
December 19, 2022
Updated Sep 18, 2023
Welcome back to HotToks, where we explain 'the why' behind each viral TikTok trend, tap into key cultural moments, cover app updates, and share how to plan your TikTok marketing strategy. This edition we discuss Black Friday's 2022 spending numbers, Hailey Beiber's bougie Erewhon smoothie, and TikTok "algospeak" coined to avoid flagged content.
Black Friday 2022 by the Numbers
With 196.7M online and in-person consumers, Thanksgiving and Black Friday shoppers reached an all-time high this year, up from 179.8M in 2021.
The number of shoppers who chose to make their Black Friday and Cyber Monday purchases online also grew by around 2% from 2021, according to the NRF. A large amount of these purchases were for holiday items, as it is estimated that, on average, $325.44 is spent on holiday items during this five-day shopping holiday period, which is one of the most important for retailers and brands alike. According to strategist Phil Rist, “on average, consumers say they are almost halfway (47%) done with their holiday shopping at this point in time.”
Interestingly, I noticed that the Thanksgiving holiday deals online were starting to happen way earlier than the actual holiday itself, with deals happening as early as the beginning of November. And I’m not alone: 56% of holiday shoppers say they took advantage of the early holiday sales, with 24% noting that they did their shopping well before November 16.
It is no surprise that TikTok was bustling with Black Friday content. I mean, where else are we meant to share our “highly requested” (#tb to the OG Black Friday hauls on YT) Black Friday hauls? With over 289M views for #blackfriday2022 and over 134.2M views for #blackfridayhaul, TikTok had as much of a field day as retailers did this holiday shopping season. The platform has proven to be a huge cash cow, as 2 in 5 Gen Zers have purchased a product featured in a haul video on the platform. According to WWD, retailers were bouncing with joy because this is the first year in a while where Black Friday resembled pre-pandemic Black Fridays. Retailers were breathing a sigh of relief since seeing slower October and November sales and were hopeful for a bountiful holiday shopping season — but will this consumer enthusiasm stay consistent?
It’s a $17 ($20 with tax!) smoothie sold at Erewhon, the boujee-est supermarket on the west coast. Based in LA and nestled on Beverly Boulevard, Erewhon is a “wellness-focused sanctuary” of a supermarket selling the aesthetic promise of vitality, health, and all things clean-girl. We’re talkin’ ginger shots, green juices, and okra chips that “tastes just like Lays, I swear!”
And they have merch. Hoodies selling for $185 have literally sold out. It’s not hard to see how Erewhon has become a status symbol, separating those who care about being seen with an Erewhon cup and those who don’t care for it. Think: the Starbucks cup of 2015 as the ultimate accessory. The store has many different sections, but everything is centered around wellness and healthy living. It’s the perfect breeding ground for celebrities to soft launch their brand, make an appearance and bring awareness to a highly impressionable target audience. Enter: Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie, which coincidentally coincides with her skincare brand, Rhode's, launch in June.
Within the first month of the branded, celeb-backed smoothie’s launch, it sold 36,000 units, making history, and perpetuating the success of Bieber’s skincare brand. Rhode marketed the three-piece skincare regimen to achieve “glazed skin,” and even named the serum the “Peptide Glazing Fluid,” creating an association between her brand and smoothie at Erewhon. And it popped off. Whenever there’s an outrageous price for an outrageous drink at an outrageous supermarket, you can count on TikTok to report it. With 10.4M views for “hailey bieber erewhon smoothie,” TikTokers were quick to react, respond, and review the sea-moss-gel-infused smoothie and judge whether or not it’s worth the price.
Touted as the “gold standard of beauty marketing,” this branded smoothie is becoming a case study for many beauty brands looking to boost their virality. After all, is there a better way to market something besides talking about how crazy it is on TikTok?
Brands: it might be good to think about how to learn from this activation and brainstorm ways to have viral moments on the platform. And creators, make sure to join in on viral moments like these!
TikTok Has a Way with Words
…and we are swept off our feet. After two years in the panoramic (read: pandemic), it’s not surprising that we have come up with a new jargon exclusive to the TikTok community. It’s sometimes referred to as “algospeak.”
Algospeak is newly adopted slang born out of TikTok’s algorithm in an effort to avoid content or language in your videos that could be flagged for misinformation or inappropriate content. Furthermore, TikTokers might get barred from posting if they are found violating what some may say are harsh rules. So, creators got extremely crafty about what words they used so that their videos could still get the visibility they hoped for. Thus, “pandemic” became “panoramic” (or “panini press”), “sex” became “seggs”, and “L.G.B.T.Q.” became “leg booty”. Words can also be made up, like using “unalive” for “dead”, and sometimes even words are purposely misspelled to skirt around TikTok’s moderation system. And on top of that, Gen Z slang and emojis are frequently thrown around. But don’t worry, the learning curve is somewhat shallow.
TikTok spokesperson denies that their moderation system is “too harsh,” as many educational videos about sensitive topics have flourished on the platform. But the reality is 113M videos were taken down from April to June this year, proving that the platform’s moderation tactics are still alive and thriving. And creators are getting frustrated. TikTok’s “Gen Z historian,” @kahlilgreen, says, “I can’t even quote Martin Luther King Jr. without having to take so many precautions,” and that the possibility of his videos—which he puts a lot of effort and time into creating—getting banned causes him a grave amount of anxiety.
We don’t know what the future of “algospeak” holds and if it will stay relevant. But what we do know is that TikTok has fundamentally impacted the way that we speak and connect with people culturally and socially. Personally, the TikTok video where a Gen Zer says they accidentally said “slay” in a tax firm interview comes to mind for me.
What do you think? Are TikTok-safe language and Gen Z slang here to “slay,” or will it get the boot?