TikTok Marketing 101: Aesthetics

by Susan Mullin

Continuing with our TikTok marketing series, we’ll dive into the world of “aesthetics.” As explained in simple terms by Time Magazine, an “aesthetic” essentially encompasses “moods, feelings, and subcultures around which people can find like-minded users online.” It’s a collection of things, ideas and “vibes.” Aesthetics have become so entrenched in the social media landscape that creators have taken to tagging their videos as #[aesthetic]core, replacing the bracketed section with their target community.

The “clean girl” aesthetic and the Stanley cup

The Stanley Cup’s transformation into a symbol of the “clean girl aesthetic” is a testament to the power of TikTok to redefine products and trends. The product is essentially a water tumbler with a handle and straw, good for hydration on the go. That said, it’s nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to tumblers. However, in 2022  it went viral just in time for the holidays. As a result, the Stanley Cup was featured in a number “What I got for Christmas” TikToks.

screenshot of tiktok creator doing a stanley cup unboxing
A TikTok user making a unboxing video for multiple Stanley cups

It was not just the Stanley Cup that saw a surge in sales, but other products associated with this so-called “clean girl” aesthetic. Certain types of candles, skincare products, and even specific brands of coffee grew in popularity.

These aren’t just products, but lifestyle accessories that signifying health-consciousness and organization. TikTok’s influence extends beyond individual products into entire subcultures.

Interestingly enough, Stanley Cup– a brand that long preceded the TikTok app– had previously targeted male audiences. Since going viral online, though, the target demographic has shifted significantly. The Stanley Cup’s popularity on TikTok is a result of strategic marketing efforts by the brand. Three years ago, Stanley partnered with influencers to attract a new, predominantly female audience. They repackaged their flagship Quencher cup to appeal to the lifestyle of the “woman on the go.”

Tapping into aesthetics

TikTok video on Amazon purchases that emanate “coastal granddaughter energy”

This presents an intriguing opportunity for brands. Understanding and aligning with popular TikTok aesthetics can position their products within these trending digital discourses. The “clean girl”, “coastal granddaughter”, “vanilla girl” and “pilates princess” aesthetics are just a few examples that regularly surface on some users’ For You Page. 

By associating your product with a specific aesthetic, and casting it as an integral part of a compelling “look,” your digital campaigns will gain far more traction. Your product will come to mind not just when users see your brand, but every time they encounter that particular aesthetic. You could partner with a particular influencer who is known to have that “aesthetic,” or make TikToks on your own account referencing said aesthetic and using popular audio. This strategic approach allows your brand to establish a strong association with the desired lifestyle, ensuring prolonged brand recall amongst the TikTok audience.

If you want to learn how you can use UGC to make your products go viral, check out the previous segment of this TikTok series. Read our final part of this series and learn how “dupes” are revolutionizing the market.

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