TikTok in the UK: The New Frontier of Social Commerce in 2024

January 11, 2024

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TikTok was crowned the major social selling platform in the UK in 2023. Furthermore, nearly every seller who started on the platform has reported tremendous success. The following figures clearly illustrate the platform's 'magic' and explain why an increasing number of e-commerce businesses are eager to establish their presence there.

In 2023, TikTok was named the most shopped UK social channel. According to the Retail Technology Show survey, British users made an average of 10 purchases on TikTok, compared to 9 on Meta platforms. And it’s not just Gen Z we’re talking about — for the younger crowd, these numbers were even higher. So, what lies behind the 'magic' of TikTok, and why should you consider it an important channel to explore if you’re selling something online?

TikTok User Demographics in the UK

Usage of TikTok Among Age Groups

In 2022, the number of monthly active users of TikTok in the UK was 17.2 million. By 2026, this number is expected to reach at least 21 million people.

Tik Tok statistics: number of users in the uk 2021-2026

For years, TikTok has been considered a 'teen's platform'. However, only 25% of TikTok users are between 10 and 19 years old. In 2023, the most significant adoption of TikTok usage in the UK occurred in the age group between 45 and 65 years old.

In 2022, 19.1% of UK users were aged 35-54, and 31.2% were 24-35 years old. These age groups are exactly what we in marketing consider to be the most active purchasing demographic.

Tik tok users in the uk by age and gender

Usage of TikTok Among Genders

The primary audience of TikTok in the UK is predominantly women aged 13 to 24 years old, accounting for 25% of the audience, compared to 17.9% of men in the same age group. This makes TikTok an ideal channel for brands in apparel and fashion, cosmetics, personal care, mental health, and travel products.

list of products  good and bad for tik tok. good: apparel, beauty, maternity,mental health, games, travel icons. bad: DIY, b2b, insurance, banking, expensive mansions icons

Time Spent on TikTok by a UK-based User

On average, a UK-based TikTok user spends 41 minutes on the app.

Yes, it’s still less than they would spend on YouTube, Instagram or event Twitter, however, this platform compared to the rest is apparently, the most "shopable": 50% of TikTok users actually buy things there, while these numbers are much less for YouTube (48%), Instagram (43%) and  Twitter (20%).

how many users buy on tik tok compared to other social media platforms

The Rise of TikTok as a Shopping Hub in the UK

No wonder, TikTok has been rising as a strong social commerce hub for the last 2-3 years in the UK.

TikTok Shop

A key driver of this transformation is the TikTok Shop feature. This tool enables users to browse and purchase products directly within the app, offering a seamless shopping experience that is both convenient and engaging. It leverages the platform's immense reach and the power of viral content to drive sales, making it an attractive avenue for brands to reach potential customers.

The rise of TikTok as a shopping hub is indicative of broader changes in online shopping behaviours. Consumers, particularly the younger demographic, are increasingly looking for interactive and social shopping experiences. TikTok meets this need by blending entertainment with shopping, creating an environment where users can discover products organically through content they enjoy.

Consumers, particularly the younger demographic, are increasingly looking for interactive and social shopping experiences.

Platform algorithms to support a better “shopper-product fit”

Moreover, the platform's algorithm, which favours engaging and popular content, has given rise to a new form of influencer marketing. Brands are partnering with TikTok influencers to create content that promotes their products in a way that feels authentic and relatable to the audience. This approach has proven to be effective, as evidenced by the numerous viral marketing successes on the platform.

The increasing relevance of TikTok in the social commerce space is also a testament to its unique ability to capture and retain user attention. With features like live streaming, interactive polls, and AR filters, TikTok is continuously innovating to enhance the shopping experience. These features not only drive user engagement but also offer brands creative ways to showcase their products and tell their stories.

With features like live streaming, interactive polls, and AR filters, TikTok is continuously innovating to enhance the shopping experience

Why TikTok Triumphed as the Top Social Selling Channel in 2023

If you look at the stats above, it's pretty clear that the audience is there. But there’s more to it. The relatively lower competitive landscape on TikTok, compared to other major platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube, presents a unique advantage for marketers. With around 5 million brands on TikTok versus the 200 million on Instagram, the reduced saturation means less competition for audience attention.

Lower Cost Metrics

This less crowded environment can lead to lower cost metrics such as CPC and CPA. With fewer brands vying for ad space and user attention, the costs associated with advertising and customer acquisition can be significantly reduced on TikTok.

Higher ROAS

A less competitive platform often translates into a higher ROAS. On TikTok, the unique and engaging content format, combined with less competition, can lead to higher engagement rates, making ad spend more efficient and effective.

Why Tik Tok Is Good For eCommerce in the uk

Strategic impact of TikTok on eCommerce marketing metrics eCommerce

Marketers can leverage TikTok’s less competitive landscape in several ways to enhance their overall marketing mix:

  • Improving key paid acquisition metrics: Allocating a portion of the advertising budget to TikTok can potentially yield higher ROAS, diversifying the risk associated with more competitive platforms, and improving your key metrics in general.
  • Testing Innovative Content Strategies: The platform’s unique format encourages creativity and innovation, allowing brands to experiment with new types of content that might stand out more easily than on other platforms.
  • A/B Testing New Campaigns: With its dynamic and trend-driven nature, TikTok can serve as an excellent testing ground for new campaigns before rolling them out on other, more competitive platforms.

TikTok's Influence on Consumer Behaviour in the UK

Now, in 2024, even if you’re not using TikTok as a sales channel, you have to count in anyway. Why? The platform itself has impacted consumer’s behaviour considerable, creating anew set of expectations in terms of service, content delivery and communication between a brand and a shopper.

Interaction between a brand and a shopper

The unique content approach of TikTok is altering the way brands interact with and engage their audience. Traditional advertising methods are giving way to more creative and authentic content on TikTok. Brands are increasingly collaborating with influencers and content creators to produce material that doesn't feel like conventional advertising. This approach not only appeals more to the TikTok audience but also fosters a sense of community and trust between the brand and the consumer.

Enhanced personalisation

TikTok's algorithm is famous for its ability to eventually create experience close to personal. Customers who use TikTok expect the same level of personalisation from companies and brands they interact with. They demand personal touch on everything: from immersive promotions, to personalised pricing, to messaging that resonates with them at the right time in the right place. TikTok created a need for deeper and more granular customer segmentation in eCommerce. And this is the reality we all will have to face sooner or later.

Ana Bibikova, a Head of Marketing at Aimondo

Ana Bibikova, a Head of Marketing at Aimondo


Ana is a rare breed: T-shaped marketer with a wide experience in eCommerce, B2B, B2C and B2B2B marketing. Writes about unconventional strategies for exceptional growth.

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