Pacsun hits 2M TikTok following in brand identity push

    • Young consumer clothing brand Pacsun has topped two million followers on TikTok, a goal set by the company in 2021 as the brand strives to live organically in its shoppers’ feeds, according to a press release.
    • The company deployed popular tactics to gain its following, like hashtag challenges, shoppable livestreams and creator partnerships, but noted in press materials that it utilized an in-house team to participate in other viral trends and craft a voice outside of selling.
    • Pacsun’s push demonstrates a growing effort by brands to utilize social media to sculpt a brand identity to form a relationship with younger consumers and signifies the growing popularity of shoppable content.

    Countless brands have taken to TikTok in recent years to promote a product or campaign, frequently by deploying the skills of popular creators, but Pacsun has taken a more involved approach by interacting with the platform and its users on a personal level, routinely participating in viral trends that aren’t in itself tied to the brand in attempt to be an active player in the community.

    For brands looking to appeal to younger consumers, TikTok has quickly become an asset. The app has 138 million U.S. users as of July, 60% of whom are Gen Z. Retailers are increasingly tapping into the market, with brands like Adidas and Nike paving the way with 2.8 and 2.6 million followers at the time of publication, respectively. Other clothing brands have a more modest following, like American Eagle (379.7k), Abercrombie (32.2k) and Old Navy (68.8k), to put Pacsun’s following into perspective.

    The apparel brand has long worked to build relationships and brand loyalty on the ByteDance-owned app through hashtag challenges like its #BetterTogetherChallenge 2021 holiday campaign and its #GetYourJeansOn fall 2021 campaign, which pulled 9.8 billion and 8.8 billion views, respectively, and encouraged viewers to use its sounds on their videos. It also has crafted partnerships with popular creators like Anna Sitar for the 2022 Super Bowl and Emma Chamberlain for its 2022 spring campaig, and those relationships often generate behind-the-scenes content and opportunities for consumer interactions, like through live-streamed chats.

    But seemingly essential to its digital strategy, Pacsun counts on its employees and store associates to make non-branded content, oftentimes utilizing other viral sounds, effects and trends, like getting “Krissed,” a playful reference to Kris Jenner (which rallied nearly a million likes), with the goal of establishing a relatable brand identity that increases loyalty, versus using the app only to promote a specific product or campaign. The motion to participate in those trends represents a gap missed by others: 64% of consumers report they want brands to connect with them, per a SproutSocial report. Further, the company says it has seen a direct correlation between post virality and sales, per the release.

    “We always want to give our community transparency into who and what is at the core of Pacsun,” said Tyler MacDonald, senior manager of influencer and social media at Pacsun. “While many retailers take a product first approach, we concentrate on our identity first by creating unique content, then product second. If our followers are intrigued by what they see and can relate to it, they’ll naturally look into our product and buy it due to that affinity.”

    The company attributes some of its TikTok success to in-app shopping features that pair with its livestream shopping efforts and are timed around product launches and campaigns. Shoppable videos are growing in popularity, with companies like Youtube following in TikTok’s footsteps, and Facebook even opting to ditch its traditional shopping features in favor of its short-form reels. The efforts seem to be taking flight: 40% of advertising executives reporting that shoppable video ads are an integral part of their media mix, according to an Interactive Advertising Bureau study. Further, over 55% of respondents said the method achieves upper funnel objectives like brand awareness and consideration. In 2021, TikTok partnered with Publicis Groupe as its first commerce agency partner in efforts to further position itself as a shopping platform.

    Pacsun also began experimenting with non-shoppable livestreams to give users access into events, most recently by partnering with Grace VanderWaal at the brand’s #MyDenimStory event at its SoHo flagship location to post BTS content. The company has already made growth plans for TikTok for the future and has established an in-store ambassador program for its employees to help push out more content through more individualized lenses, per the company announcement.


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