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Why the £0.99 TikTok water bottle is sold out all over the app

  • A 2-litre bottle of water is flooding UK TikTok as several retailers advertise it for £0.99 ($1.29).
  • The bottle aesthetic is perfect for the application, but retailers are unlikely to take advantage of it.
  • Vendors and experts say it’s likely linked to a push by the app to promote its retail platform.

UK TikTok users scrolling through their feeds over the past few months will have struggled to avoid videos promoting an outrageously priced plastic bottle.

In the UK, TikTok has been inundated with adverts for the rainbow colored 2 liter water bottles. They are sold by multiple sellers on the app and feature inspirational messages encouraging users to drink more water, as one bottle is equivalent in the United States to just over eight cups a day.

Watch one of the videos for a few seconds, and a small box appears at the bottom left of the screen. Clicking on it takes users to a checkout page, where they can purchase the bottle of water – with free delivery – for the low price of £0.99 (about $1.29).

It wasn’t just the bottle ads that dominated the app. Daily users who have purchased them are posting videos showing off their new purchase.

Other similar items that have become commonly advertised include £0.99 sunset lamps and £0.99 air diffusers, but it was the giant water bottles that captured the air of the weather.

A video posted in January and credited in part with popularizing the article has been viewed more than 16 million times, and videos including the hashtag #99pwaterbottle have received more than 40 million views to date. YouTube users uploaded unboxing and review videos, and media outlets posted explanations on how to get one.

TikTok users may assume the bottle’s explosion in popularity is a coincidence, but retail pundits and sellers suggest it’s likely up to TikTok’s campaign to push its new sales platform. retail, which may encourage sellers to market that particular product, even if it means making a loss.

TikTok Shop could tempt sellers to make a loss on the bottle

TikTok Shop is the company’s e-commerce platform and is open to all users who want to sell products through the app. People can sell all the products they want, within the guidelines set by TikTok, but many seem to have found the water bottle to be an inexpensive way to grab attention.

It’s unclear how so many different retailers have access to the same product, but it’s become an extremely popular item.

Yumeng Zou, one of two employees who work at the amazingfriday_UK TikTok Shop, told Insider that they sell “nearly 2,000 or 3,000 bottles a day.”

Despite the company name, amazingfriday_UK has nothing to do with the UK – the three people who make up the e-commerce company are all based in Shenzhen, China, a former fishing village that is now the global manufacturing center, exporting $224 billion. articles worldwide in 2019, according to a United Nations report.

The company, which Zou described as a startup, began selling products in late February 2022 on TikTok.

Zou declined to answer questions about whether amazingfriday_UK makes a profit on TikTok’s famous water bottles, but said the company can sell them at a low price “because we can ship our products directly to customers and don’t ‘have no middleman , and do not need an overseas warehouse.’

E-commerce expert Dan Barker told Insider there could be more at stake, suggesting it has to do with the short-form video-sharing app’s latest push to promote TikTok Shop.

Insider previously reported that TikTok was offering users huge cash prizes to launch a store through its app. “This allows these vendors to increase incentives to level up and have the chance to win cash prizes of up to five figures after achieving particular goals,” Barker explained. “So some of these sellers may be using a very low priced product with an offer to increase orders for a program like that.”

A number of comments on videos advertising the bottle indicate that for users who have previously purchased from the TikTok store, the price of the bottle has risen to £4.99 ($6.50), suggesting that the goal is to integrate new customers.

Barker said many e-commerce sites make a minimal profit — and sometimes even a loss — on customers’ first orders.

“It’s quite common for companies to calculate a ‘cost per newly acquired customer,’ assuming they’ll make the actual profit on subsequent orders from those same customers,” he said.

The bottle itself was the perfect product for TikTok sellers.

Barker believes that for retailers new to the platform, the product is a deliberate choice, as a plastic bottle of this size might be a tough sell in other circumstances. He speculated that the stock might be “hanging around in warehouses”, making it worth selling for such a low price.

Pastel colors and inspirational messages to drink more water throughout the day also fuel an aesthetic that has dominated TikTok in recent years. Florence Adepoju, founder of cosmetics brand MDMflow and head of retail partnerships at Gen Z marketing agency Fanbytes, told product review publication Thingtesting in 2020 that some of the most popular products on the platform -shape include “holographies, bright and bold reflections and glitter”. unlike Instagram’s “cleaner” aesthetic.

Patrick Nommensen, who is part of TikTok’s e-commerce operations in the UK, told Insider the £0.99 water bottle had been sold on the platform for a while, but it appeared on on the app’s radar in November 2021. “We noticed quite quickly that TikTok’s £0.99 water bottle videos were getting a lot of attention,” Nommensen said.

He said TikTok is “all about discovery and new trends”, adding that it’s “not unusual” for popular products to go viral on the platform in this way.

Although TikTok declined to share sales figures, the bottle had become one of the platform’s top sellers in February 2022, according to Nommensen, with “impressive” sales for merchants on the platform. He confirmed that TikTok takes “a small, industry-standard commission from every sale made through the platform.”

The strategy appears to be working as the bottles keep driving users to TikTok Shop

Two of the biggest TikTok stores that stock the water bottle have sold more than 500,000 units between them, with other smaller retailers selling thousands, according to figures shown on their product pages.

One of the users who bought the water bottle was Eve, 25, from the UK, who declined to give her surname. Her friend, colleague and fellow TikTok user Mimi Horne had bought a bottle for herself, posting about it on TikTok.

“I asked her where she got it,” Eve told Insider. “She then said she had the affiliate code where I could get it for £0.99 with free delivery and it’s such a cute bottle I had to get it.”

Eve ordered it at the end of February and it arrived on March 11.

“It’s awesome,” Eve said. “I think what makes it great is its size with its price, compared to others that are ‘professional’ sports bottles for a lot more money.”

She said she would also be tempted to buy other £0.99 products from TikTok, such as sunset lamps and air diffusers, but only if they also have free delivery .

For more stories like this, check out Insider’s digital literacy team coverage here.

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