• Ofer Zeevy

Users react as “TikTok Kitchen” becomes the new buzz

Updated: Jul 7

We are used to physical businesses and services going from physical to digital, but it seems that parts of the digital world are trying to re-establish themselves by opening physical stores as well. Digital still supplies the main revenues and future for many of these top services, but alongside it, they are investing in having a physical presence to accompany their online activities.

Phone screen with TikTok on it.

Take the giant TikTok for example. The extremely popular platform announced, in late 2021, that it would open a restaurant chain called “TikTok Kitchen''. The chain will serve foods based on some of the most-watched short videos aired on it. The plan is to open around 1,000 ghost-kitchens across the USA and have professional cooks prepare the greatest food hits, as measured by how much they were viewed, liked, and shared, and then deliver them to customers via TikTok’s partner GrubHub.

TikTok is by no means the only major digital platform doing business in physical stores. Amazon opened its first physical non-food store in the UK following their already existing retail stores in the USA. Amazon currently has 589 stores including all of those which belong to the supermarket chain Whole Foods that it owns, as well as 26 Amazon Go stores. Among the strategic reasons Amazon mentioned for owning so many physical places for its products, one can find the need to present “see-and-touch” goods that customers wouldn’t buy online or not naturally associate with a tech brand.

Both TikTok and Amazon use their very strong brand name to expand into the physical-stores territory, banking on their well-known brand name and reputation as well as on their ability to capitalize on their offerings and services. While Amazon is much more established and organized, for TikTok this is a brand new experience which, if successful, could lead to the company’s opening of new services in other areas related to top-trending items on its platform.

Affogata tracked what customers had to say in the time period following Dec.17th, 2021, when TikTok made its announcement. Overall feedback increased immediately due to the media coverage of the story and peaked on Dec. 20th. The new buzzword “TikTok Kitchen'' received double the positive mentions than the negatives and was the top-ranked keyword by far. In general, many customers shared various news articles about the story without presenting their personal opinions on the subject.

A few mentions caught the eye when evaluating the negative responses to the story. First, there were customers who showed their concern over TikTok’s usage of people’s recipes without sharing with their percentages of the sales. So monetization issues out of people’s own content was definitely a concern. Then there was a Buzzfeed Twitter news mention which pondered how customers will accept recipes served now when nine months have passed since they were posted and became viral. This mention was important as it received a very high reach since Buzzfeed carries 1.4 million followers. Finally, on yet another Twitter viral front, negative sentiment was registered by no other than celebrity artist Lil’ Naz.

Negative conversations around TikTok Kitchen

Negative conversations around TikTok Kitchen

Negative conversations around TikTok Kitchen

It would be interesting to follow what tactics TikTok will use once they open their new kitchens and if they would pay attention to the concerns customers raised so far. Customer feedback helps shape the evolution of brands, and Affogata is there to track and analyze this new operation as well as TikTok’s overall brand. Being able to track millions of opinions and conversations from all over the open web and carry out an accurate analysis of such data can mean a world of difference for companies in terms of planning their brand strategic moves. Stay tuned for examining how TikTok would perform with its first-ever physical market presence.

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