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TikTok shop feature is to blame for decrease in the app popularity

Published on 22.01.2024 by Tracey Chizoba Fletcher

In 2023, despite TikTok's dominance in terms of downloads and consumer expenditures, it didn't lead the pack in actual user engagement. Last year, Facebook continued to reign supreme in terms of monthly active users, securing the top spot, while its sister applications under the Meta umbrella - WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger - also surpassed TikTok, which was positioned fifth in the ranking. Recent insights suggest a slowdown in TikTok's expansion, sparking debates on whether its foray into the online retail space with TikTok Shop has impacted its growth trajectory.


TikTok’s user growth

Market research firm Sensor Tower has revealed intriguing trends in TikTok's user growth. Although the app is still gaining users, the rate of increase is on a downward slope. In 2022, TikTok experienced an average 12% rise in monthly active users, calculated quarter-over-quarter on an annual basis. However, this growth rate dipped to just 3% in 2023, indicating a notable deceleration in its expansion.


The changes are coming in 2024

The change comes on the heels of TikTok’s launch of TikTok Shop in the U.S. In November 2022, the video application initiated a pilot program for its shopping feature, 'Shop,' in the United States, attracting notable participants like PacSun, Revolve, Willow Boutique, and KimChi Chic Beauty. The Shop's formal U.S. debut occurred in September 2023, marking a strategic move to convert TikTok's viral appeal — epitomized by the "TikTok made me buy it" trend — into tangible sales figures. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in the U.K. last summer, TikTok trialed 'Trendy Beat,' an in-app shopping platform showcasing products from its parent company, ByteDance. Additionally, as reported by the Associated Press and others, TikTok has been implementing an affiliate program, enabling content creators to garner earnings through commissions on products they promote.


TikTok shop introduction

The introduction of TikTok Shop has sparked a wave of discontent, as highlighted by Business Insider in November. Users are increasingly voicing their frustrations, describing the once beloved app as transforming into a realm overrun with advertisements and a bleak, commercialized environment. This sentiment resonates across various online communities, notably among Redditors. Intense discussions are unfolding regarding the platform's shift, with many lamenting the inundation of the app with sellers peddling low-quality goods, a scenario vividly depicted by a Reddit user.