What is Douyin/TikTok?
Founded by the Beijing-based software developer ByteDance in 2016, Douyin is a Chinese social media app used primarily for the creation and sharing of short, user-generated videos of dancing, comedy, and lip-syncing to music. In 2017, ByteDance went on to also launch TikTok, a related app whose servers sit outside of China’s censorship laws and offer the platform to a worldwide audience. Although the two apps are linked and extremely similar, Douyin is the only version available to Chinese users while TikTok is for users outside of China.
How popular are Douyin and TikTok?
Douyin and TikTok have amassed a vast global audience between them. It was confirmed in 2019 that ByteDance have one billion active monthly users for their apps, and that the number of downloads of Douyin and TikTok have also exceeded the billion mark. As of January 2020, Douyin has 400 million active daily users in China, while TikTok is now available in 150 markets and 75 languages. TikTok has more than 100 million downloads in the USA and more than 250 million in India. Despite only have existed since 2017, it’s been reported that TikTok is the seventh most downloaded app of the decade between 2010 and 2019.
What is the difference between Douyin and TikTok?
Currently, TikTok’s monetization options are in their infancy as most brands have only used it for eCommerce in a limited way. This is one of the areas where Douyin and TikTok differ though, as the Chinese app is more developed in terms of how its hosted content can be used to sell products.
We believe it’s more pressing for brands to focus on Douyin, both because of its enhanced eCommerce capabilities but also because the language and geographical barriers mean that Western brands know little about Douyin and the potential threat it poses from counterfeit goods and IP infringement.
How does eCommerce work on Douyin?
The popularity of the platform means that its users are increasingly keen to offer goods for sale, which they can do in three main ways. Some videos, particularly reviews and brand-created content, have embedded sales links which allow users to tap on videos and purchase featured goods or services.
Additionally, Douyin also now has an in-video search mechanism which allows users to scan faces for additional videos or to click on visual components such as clothing in order to find sales outlets or related content. Finally, some sellers post videos highlighting what stock they have and create links to where these goods can be purchased off the app. These videos can be found via keyword searches for brands rather than for regular content, in much the same way as searches on regular eCommerce platforms.
Are there counterfeits on Douyin?
Yes. Douyin has been criticized since almost the moment it began for allowing counterfeiters to run videos which are little more than what the Chinese media publisher Tencent described as “fake showcases.” Some users share videos where they feature the counterfeit goods they have for sale, but there are also examples of videos where counterfeiters show potential buyers exactly how they add brand names and logos to homemade cosmetics and luxury goods. As the target market on Douyin is slightly older and more affluent than TikTok, the brands most at risk there include producers of cosmetics, luxury items, and watches.
How can I enforce against IP infringement on Douyin?
Despite criticism of Douyin for hosting videos of counterfeit goods, the company have not yet put in place sufficient anti-counterfeiting safeguards. Douyin does not have an IP protection program, nor has ByteDance established anti-counterfeiting measures such as the removal of certain keywords or the automatic regulation of images. Where monitoring and enforcement is possible, brands must either rely on the platform itself, or they must do it themselves. Reporting infringements is possible through user profiles or through a generic email address, but as Douyin is operated in Chinese this is unlikely to be workable for most brands.
Furthermore, Douyin’s search algorithms are reportedly working in favour of counterfeiters by returning increased results based on commonly used terms. Until the platform seeks to red flag these listings and search terms, it will present an ongoing danger to brands.
At Pointer we have native speakers and IP experts located in mainland China for the express purpose of working on behalf of brands to reduce these issues. If these are concerns you have then please contact us today at email@example.com for a discussion of how we can help.