HotToks: #DUPE Culture and the Search for a New TikTok
Last updated on
September 18, 2023
Welcome back to HotToks. This edition we report #DUPE culture and changing consumer culture, plus the search for a new TikTok 2.0, #TikTokDOOP. Will it be Lemon8?
#DUPE Culture Enters the Chat with 3.6B Views on TikTok
What is a #dupe or #doop? Short for ‘duplicate,’ a dupe is a less-expensive alternative to a brand-name item. Deal-hunting has hit the world of TikTok, and when a group of people can come together and help each other save money, it can be a pretty good thing. Just look at the numbers: #dupe has over 3.6B views on TikTok, and its alter ego, #doop has over 223M views.
The term ‘dupe’ originated in the depths of the beauty world, around 2010, especially on YouTube (remember that era?). Beauty bloggers used the term to give their followers a cheaper option for more expensive makeup products that almost have the same payoff. For example, if you didn’t want to buy something from Giorgio Armani, you might be able to find a dupe from Maybelline since they’re both owned by the same parent company and might have similar formulations.
Dupes aren’t necessarily a lot cheaper or may not be necessarily lower in quality, as the term might connotate. Still, a dupe should be significantly less expensive than the original product that is considered a ‘holy grail’ but might be way overpriced for its worth. The dupe must be close enough in appearance or performance to make it seem like a good deal.
Consumer interest in lower-price options is nothing new. Still, if this tells us anything about the American consumer market, the relationship between price and quality can be virtually impossible to truly determine. If anything, the trend cycle has made us more and more focused on consumption as a society.
In fact, dupes might actually be mutually beneficial for the designer brand and the alternative copycat version. Counterfeit products are known to increase the desire and attention paid to more high-end brands and lead to more sales, and unfortunately, looking for dupesis an admission that you do want the more expensive version. It’s an endless cycle of constant consumption, or as The Atlantic calls it, ‘a dupe loop’: desires are planted in young people (especially with TikTok), and they get a taste of that through buying a cheaper version, and as they get older, their perception of what is a good deal might shift, and funnel into actually purchasing the real deal. #Dupe or #doop, it’s all about reeling consumers in.
Is Lemon8 a TikTok 2.0 ... a #TikTokDupe, if you will?
TikTok’s sister app, also owned by ByteDance, Lemon8, is the talk of the town, especially with the discussions about the TikTok ban and #TikTokZaddy. Since its launch in March 2020, the app has been installed more than 17 million times globally, with Japan being its biggest market, representing 36.5% of its lifetime downloads. This impressive growth all of a sudden just demonstrates how determined ByteDance is to grow in the U.S. market and how much power Chinese apps have over American consumers.
How is Lemon8 different from TikTok?
Unlike TikTok, Lemon8 allows users to upload stills, and the app's aesthetic is more light, fun, and colorful. And documents that ByteDance shared with agencies to recruit new influencers in January showed that Lemon8’s initial focus was mainly on fashion, healthy food, and wellness. But U.S. lawmakers and regulators are still concerned, citing concerns that Beijing could still gain access to sensitive data about U.S. consumers: “It’s a social media platform like Instagram, it has to do with gathering information on users and it has the same ownership structure, being a child of ByteDance, so I think the same issues are going to come up,” says Lindsay Gorman, a former tech adviser for the Biden administration.
“It’s a social media platform like Instagram, it has to do with gathering information on users and it has the same ownership structure, being a child of ByteDance, so I think the same issues are going to come up,” - Lindsay Gorman, former tech adviser for the Biden administration
The rollout looks something like this: through April, Lemon8 is in a phase called ‘content accumulation,’ in May, the app will look towards adding users and helping creators grow, and in September, the app will turn towards ‘commercialization opportunities.’