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TikTok becomes the next frontier for influencer marketing as Dunkin', Arby's tap the platform

Brooke DiPalma
·Associate Producer
·3 min read
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Calling all TikTok users and coffee lovers: Dunkin’ Donuts (DNKN) is asking for menu hacks that may be part of a limited edition run, as the coffee giant becomes part of a vanguard of major companies leveraging the viral video platform to reach younger consumers.

Through December 12th, fans being are encouraged to share their Dunkin’-related food tips in a TikTok video, tagging the company’s social media account (@Dunkin) and using the hashtag “#DunkinMenuHackContest.”

Dunkin’s culinary team will then choose the three “most delicious” hacks to be added to the menu — like TikTok influencer Maddie Goetz’s special bagel, bacon and hashbrowns combo, which is already available nationwide — for a limited time later this month. The winners will each also receive a $100 Dunkin’ gift card, and a Dunkin’ onesie.

Dunkin’s effort to reach new Gen Z customers on the growing social media platform is part of a rising trend among major food brands, with Kraft Heinz (KHC) and Arby’s also tapping the platform to meet new consumers where they are.

According to Social Chain USA managing director Oliver Yonchev, brands are realizing that direct engagement on TikTok is necessary to winning over the next generation.

“Brands are finally starting to loose their ego by producing things that people want, rather than what the brand wants. Those that are taking bolder steps with their marketing tactics are certainly winning,” Yonchev told Yahoo Finance recently.

And brands who don’t realize and adopt this key strategy may just fall behind, he warned.

(Courtesy: Arby's)
(Courtesy: Arby's)

In a promotion that ended last week, Kraft Heinz asked fans to recreate the iconic 90s jingle (“pizza in the morning, pizza in the evenin’, pizza at suppertime”). This contest encouraged fans to post their video on various social media platforms like Facebook (FB), Twitter (TWTR), Tiktok or Instagram — and the winner will receive $10,000 and a year’s supply of Bagel Bites pizza snacks.

And until November 20th, Arby’s featured a $5 Missing Menu Meal, including a classic roast beef, loaded curly fries and a small drink that customers could order by saying “I have your TV,” or by requesting it as the “Missing Menu Meal.”

This idea was in direct response to a viral TikTok video that featured one user buying what he thought was a flat screen TV for $25 dollars, that actually turned out to be an Arby’s menu screen. The video boosted user “John C’s” fame, and he now has two million followers on the platform.

The moves by Arby’s, Dunkin’ and Kraft are part of what Yonchev called an awakening among major corporations that they need to “win the hearts and minds of young people,” which keeps them relevant and encourages brand loyalty.

In this brave new world, it’s simply not enough for a big brand to maintain a social media presence without really making the effort to engage users.

“Posting product pictures and highly curated sales messages in feeds is not only ineffective in environments like TikTok, but it’s actually likely to have the opposite effect, and create a negative interaction with the brand,” Yonchev told Yahoo Finance.

Brooke DiPalma is a producer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @BrookeDiPalma.

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