Jun 2022 / Blog / Influencer Marketing Strategy

Top Three food campaigns on TikTok

Food and beverage brands are turning to TikTok and for good reason. The video-sharing app is especially popular among Gen Zers, who spent 23% of their money on eating and drinking. This makes them a prime target for food and beverage brands. Read on the Kolsquare blog what top three food campaigns are killing it on TikTok right now.

The Chinese short-form video hosting service owned by ByteDance Ltd is known for its entertaining and funny content that attracted over a billion monthly active users last year. Throughout the pandemic, these users grew to be especially interested in food and beverages. Thus, food trends like baked feta recipe videos, the #dalgonacoffee or Gordon Ramsay, the Michelin star chef who creates his own short videos to duet home cooks’ recipes, went viral.

Gen Z and their eating habits

While Generation Z accounts for the majority of TikTok’ users (60%), Gen Zers are very diverse and have high levels of education, digital nativism, social and cultural awareness and a high prosperity to be more expressive. Loosely born from 1995 to 2010, Generation Z is the first of true digital natives. A meaningful result of the Packaged Facts report is that they pose challenges for marketers as they have complicated and contradictory characteristics. 

While Millennials were often called the “me generation”, Gen Z is the “True Gen” according to McKinsey & Company research, as the Gen Zers particularly express individual truth. Clearly, this has an effect on their consumption and relationships to brands. McKinsey & Company suggest three implications: “consumption as access rather than possession, consumption  as an expression of individual identity, and consumption as a matter of ethical concern.” 

Furthermore, they also show a preference for healthy eating. As they were brought up in an age of health and wellness, they pay attention to organic and natural ingredients. However, as they are always on the go, they are interested in portable and easy-to-prepare foods. They are also hyped on snacks, even more than other generations before. Long story short, food and beverage companies can gain a lot by paying attention to this demographic. 

HFSS ad ban

It is important for brands to know that from January 2023, they will no longer be able to use paid advertising online to promote products with High Fat Sugar Salt (HFSS) content. The ban is quite controversial, as it was initiated to protect children, but it also represents a vote of no confidence in the advertising and food industries in multiple ways. 

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Whatever is consumed online has a great impact though. The MGH survey shows that 36% of TikTok users from across the US have in fact visited or ordered food from a restaurant that they saw on the app. Additionally, the study revealed that 55% chose to visit a restaurant because the food looked appetising online, 51% because of a unique menu item. 

Three best practice examples

1. Dunkin’

Donuts are per se fun food. No wonder the pastries go viral regularly on TikTok; and with them so does Dunkin’ (formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts). Moreover, the brand is known for having the “friendliest fandom” on the internet. Not only does Dunkin’ work with big influencers, they make them part of their brand. As Charli D’amelio (@charlidamelio) grew her following, Dunkin’ products popped up organically in her videos. After these millions of free impressions, the brand invited her to become a brand ambassador. 

However, Dunkin’ is not only working with superstar influencer, for a major TV commercial in the US they asked for a TikTok duet to ask users to join their casting call-style challenge (#dunkincastingcall). By now, the hashtag has 9.1 million views and holds the promise for many to become the next Charli. 

2. Doritos

The brand’s profile is both supported by great influencers and wider user-generated content. So, turning their staffers to brand mascots has worked for Doritos. In order to do so, the snack brand is not reluctant to provide branded TikTok filters. For instance, the “flaming hot” features AR flames coming out of a user’s mouth, or “StackSTAX” makes users move their head to “stack” Doritos.

Another strategy is to convey a strong behind-the-scenes feel through self-deprecating, self-referential videos that stand out next to the serialised content they publish for product launches. 

3. Chipotle

The American chain of fast casual restaurants in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France is playing in the high leagues on TikTok. They perfectly foster their campaigns to the Gen Z audience, while already 50% of their customers are zoomers. Their success on the app comes through their branded challenges such as the first #ChipotleLidFlip. These are further promoted through collaborations with Gen Z creators, such as David Dobrik (@DavidDobrik). As for any brand ambassadors the collaboration created an extra layer of authenticity. 

Moreover, Chipotle has collaborated with Robloc, a metaverse that Gen Z loves. The restaurant created an in-game experience where players could be employees at a virtual Chipotle. The first 100,000 people to play the mini-game were offered a free burrito which is an interesting way to combine online and offline promotions.

In December 2021, TikTok announced to team up with Virtual Dining Concepts to launch delivery-only TikTok Kitchen locations across the US. The menu will consist of the app’s most viral food trends such as the previously mentioned baked feta, pasta chips or smash burger and corn ribs and will be updated quarterly each year.

Photo by Virtual Dining Concepts/TikTok, via Bloomberg

According to TikTok’s release, the profits from the restaurants will be dedicated to the creators of the menu dishes and will be used to support promising culinary talents on the platform. How TikTok will determine the authorship or what revenue it expects to generate and distribute remains unclear. 

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