TikTok-Inspired Innovation

 In Blog

TikTok is the source of many trends ranging from dances to culinary creations. As a social media service with over 500 million global subscribers, TikTok is a digital space where you can share 3-15 second videos with users from around the world. Users are also encouraged to engage with each other through “duet” videos where they imitate or make video parodies posted on the platform. When duet videos amass, it results in a viral sensation.

Popularity of the app has exploded over the last few years. In 2019, TikTok was the most downloaded app on iPhones (more than 33 million people downloaded it worldwide). It’s especially beloved by Gen-Z, who make up 41% of the total users. The average number of views on TikTok are 1 billion per day and the average user is on the app 52 minutes per day, according to Oberlo.

Here are the prevalent viral trends involving food and beverage on TikTok as well as some ways you can apply them to your next innovation:



The Trend: Dalgona coffee, tea and more: At the onset of the pandemic, Dalgona coffee was all the rage. It’s made by whisking equal parts of instant coffee, sugar, and water together until the mixture thickens and holds its shape. The whipped coffee topping is then placed on top of a glass filled with ice and milk (or a dairy alternative). The result is a silky, frothy cold coffee. Once the Dalgona coffee trend caught on people started experimenting with other ingredients, too, like matcha and strawberry Nesquik, which add a pop of color that we know to be popular across other social media platforms.

The Takeaway: Consumers are really interested in novel sensory experiences, especially ones that involve smooth, creamy textures. This was also evident when nitro coffees exploded in popularity. Making a Dalgona coffee by hand ends up being a workout for your biceps (it takes about 10-15 minutes to manually whip one up), but brands can create products that offer a similar experience without so much effort. Additionally, the fact that TikTok users started experimenting with tea, sugar substitutes, chocolate and dairy ingredients suggests that they are seeking out unique sensory experiences in categories beyond coffee. Therefore, the next generation of whipped and nitro beverages could be in the dairy, juice and tea aisles.

The Trend: Homemade “cereal”: This trend started with mini-pancake cereal, which is exactly what it sounds like. Once this trend took off, users started playing with other childhood favorites by making “cereal” out of mini cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, cookies and croissants. These nostalgic creations are consumed like traditional cereal – in a bowl with milk. Not exactly keto-friendly, but Instagram-friendly, they are indeed.

The Takeaway: Many people are getting creative while stuck at home and they are drawn to the twist on nostalgia that these cereals provide. Several cereal brands are ahead of the trend (Twinkie, Drumstick and Hershey’s Kisses cereals have launched in the last year), but there are ways to incorporate this trend outside of the cereal aisle. Brands should consider how they can incorporate nostalgic flavors into products or add a twist on a familiar favorite. Examples of products currently on the market include pancake flavored protein shakes and s’mores frappés. Also, while not inspired by TikTok necessarily, taking a note out of B&G Foods playbook with their recent launch of Cinnadust may inspire new seasonings down the line as a way to experience the essence of cereal without all the carbs.

The Trend: Copycat foods: TikTok users are obsessed with recreating foods and beverages from their favorite brands at home. Examples include making homemade McDonald’s chicken nuggets, Starbucks’ Pink Drink and Nerd ropes.

The Takeaway: Brands have the opportunity to sell fan favorites to make at home. This is something we saw several restaurant brands doing throughout the pandemic by selling meal kits. Shake Shack, Taco Bell, Baskin Robbins, Dunkin’ Brands, and California Pizza Kitchen are a few of the restaurants who launched do-it-yourself offerings.

Need help turning a TikTok idea into a market-ready product? Reach out to our beverage experts by emailing thedrinktank@imbibeinc.com.