TikTok Shop UK beauty category chaos Counterfeits and banned products abound
TikTok Shop UK's beauty section is chaotic, with many counterfeit and banned products
BusinessDialogue learned that recently, according to the British media “The Guardian”, TikTok’s UK store is filled with a large number of counterfeit and banned beauty and cosmetic products, and these fake and inferior products are widely displayed in search results. Some internet celebrities even openly promote these products, causing strong dissatisfaction among consumers and relevant organizations.
In 2021, TikTok Shop was launched in the UK for the first time and has been in operation for two years. Due to the low entry threshold at the beginning of the launch, a large number of inferior products flooded the platform. According to reports, counterfeit beauty and cosmetic products sold by third-party sellers in TikTok’s UK store include knockoffs of Dior perfume, Vaseline lip balm, and Maybelline mascara, as well as whitening lotions containing prohibited ingredients and prescription-strength acne cream.
According to TikTok Shop’s policy, these products are all included in the prohibited items list.
The report pointed out that these products not only have not been removed from TikTok Shop, but also frequently appear in the homepage push content and search results. Among the 12 results that appear when searching for “perfume” on TikTok Shop, 9 of them are counterfeit products, including knockoffs of Dior Sauvage perfume called “Suave” and “Savage”. These products look similar in appearance, but upon closer inspection, the brand names are different from the authentic ones.
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Counterfeit goods also appear in cosmetics such as mascara. Even if these products are clearly marked as non-genuine, many people still buy them. However, more often than not, consumers accidentally buy fake goods, and these consumers will post TikTok videos after buying fake goods to warn other consumers to avoid them.
The report also pointed out that according to the store information of these products, many counterfeit and illegal products are manufactured in China and shipped to the UK, and the product ingredients and other information are mostly incomplete. The UK police’s intellectual property crime department tested the counterfeit cosmetics they seized and found that many of them contain arsenic, mercury, and lead at “toxic levels”.
In April of this year, TikTokShop was found to be selling a prescription gel containing “retinoic acid” for the treatment of acne. “Retinoic acid” poses a risk of fetal malformation when used by pregnant women and is a prescription drug. After being alerted, TikTok blocked the search for this product and deleted the relevant product listings.
In addition to TikTok’s algorithm and consumers’ preference for low-priced products, KOL (Key Opinion Leaders) promotion also played a role in promoting the sale of counterfeit products. Counterfeit product merchants collaborated with internet celebrities, leading to more people buying fake goods.
In 2021, a report compiled by the UK Intellectual Property Office found that KOLs play a key role in influencing consumers to purchase counterfeit products. When surveyed 1000 women aged 16 to 60, 13% of them said that they had purchased counterfeit products influenced by internet celebrities.
TikTok is not unaware of these issues. In January of this year, TikTokShop launched a cross-border new shop inspection period and cross-border category control policy, limiting the sales of small shop sellers in terms of quantity and category. This move aims to make the platform more refined and compliant.
So far this year, TikTok has deleted hundreds of products and merchants, including about 50 product listings that have been reported. As TikTok refocuses its e-commerce business on existing markets such as the UK, US, and Southeast Asia, it will be imperative to improve the platform environment.
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