A Look at TikTok Overtaking the World in 2019


How familiar are you with TikTok? You may have heard of the service already and know someone who uses the app daily. In fact, it is safe to say that TikTok is now very popular among people of various age groups not only in Japan, but also in countries all around the world. Developed and launched by a Chinese company known as ByteDance Ltd., the app essentially provides a platform for the TikTokers to film and edit short video clips and share them with people across the world through social media. These videos are mainly about individuals filming themselves imitating other popular TikTokers by dancing to the music in the background. However, they can also create original version of themselves out of it by utilizing various editing techniques provided by the app. It is rather rare for an app developed and launched in Asia to become famous worldwide. Let’s analyze TikTok’s marketing strategy and user demographics in order to uncover the secret behind the app’s success.

TikTok’s Strategy to Become Famous Worldwide

When trying to decipher why TikTok has become such a successful app worldwide, it is important to understand the app’s distinct features that may have contributed to such success. Hatena Blog explains that TikTok is popular among such a diverse population due to its well designed user interface (UI), thoughtfully constructed user experience (UX), and its “glocal” promotions. In fact, TikTok’s UI makes it extremely easy for the users to manipulate the app because all they have to do is to hold down the shutter button on the phone and they can start filming in no time.

Additionally, various filters that modify the individual’s face, such as animal and beauty filters, provide enjoyable experiences to users. Although some SNS users in the past may have experienced misalignment of facial filters when moving their faces around, TikTokers do not have to endure such problems anymore thanks to the app’s UX. Finally, TikTok’s glocal promotion has ensured that the service would capture local population and reach the global audiences simultaneously. In fact, TikTok’s flexibility to adapt to the audiences with different cultural background allowed the app to prevail in markets all around the world. For example, Hatena Blog describes that cute and uplifting concepts are popular among young female users in Japan, but the concept of family is being cherished greatly in China. Accordingly, Japanese users tend to emphasize innocent and cute self when filming TikTok videos while Chinese users are more likely to film them with their family members.

Now that we understand the basics of TikTok’s marketing strategy to successfully reach to diverse audiences, let’s take a look at the user demographics of each country to see how the app has performed in different markets over the past year.

TikTok’s Dominance in Japanese Streaming Service Industry

It is safe to say that TikTok prevails in Japanese video streaming markets because it is being utilized by a large number of people on daily basis. According to App Ape, Japan possesses more than 6 million MAUs (iOs & Android combined), and the app’s Android version is ranked #5 in Video Players & Editors category.

The active user demographics data chart demonstrates that the app is split almost evenly between female and males users, with teenagers (15%) and users in their 40s (12.1%) making up the highest age ratio respectively. On account of these active users, MAU continues to show an upward trends in Japan.

TikTok in other parts of Asia (S.Korea, Indonesia, and India)

As seen above, Tiktok in India saw a record 50% increase in its user base over the past year, soaring to around 75 million active users in total in December 2019 with just a couple of million users short of 80 million mark in September. Indonesia and South Korea, with much less population, had, respectively, around 6 and 3 million active Android users by the end of 2019.

In terms of app ranking, TikTok is 3rd in India (Social category) and 2nd in Indonesia and South Korea’s Video Players & Editors category.

TikTok demographics data in December 2019 are as shown below.

As opposed to Indonesia and South Korea where female were the dominant users of the app, male users made up over 90% of the total active users in India, about half of which are in their 20s who are believed to be contributing to the steady rise of the MAU. On the other hand, the leading age category in both Indonesia and and South Korea is women in their 40s followed by 30s users.

TikTok Overtaking the World!? (The U.S., Brazil, and Germany)

TikTok has broken a new ground for many app developers because it has proven to the world that an app developed in Asia can become successful in markets across the globe. The app statistics in the U.S., Brazil, and Germany certainly support that phenomenon.

According to App Ape, TikTok has been on steady (and dramatic) rise over the past year, reaching just short of 10 million active Android users in December. The app saw a mouth-opening 350% increase in its active user base last year and was ranked 6th in Social category.

TikTok Demographics data, as seen above, indicate that it is popular among female users making up over 60% of the total active user ratio out of which more than 25% are teenagers, who consist of about 20% of total active installs.

the Usage Frequency or User Engagement is another metric indicating success of TikTok. As seen below, user engagement has been on the rise over the past year topping 22.6 of total user active more than 2/3rd of the month. Inactive users with no monthly usage accounted for around 26% of total meaning over 70% of TikTokers were, in a way or another, engaged in the app.

…and that is exactly how an app achieves a monthly engagement rate of over 70%.

App Ape estimates that Brazil and Germany had each around 3 million active users in December last year. As displayed below, TikToK Android app’s user base started boosting in both countries in August and continued to grow through the end of the year when Germany recorded a steep fall and was overtaken by Brazil.

Here is TikTok demographics data in Brazil and Germany.

TikTok’s excellent marketing strategy has successfully reached a diverse audience around the world, and this trend is well supported by the user demographics data seen in seven countries above. The app’s adaptability to the audiences with different cultural values has played a crucial role in TikTok being able to penetrate into different markets across the globe.

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