TikTok's UK growth to slow amidst growing competition and privacy concerns - report

David Murphy

Social video app TikTok will continues to grow its user base in the UK over the next couple of years, but growth will be slower than the explosive growth seen to date, as competition heats up and concerns grow among marketers, according to eMarketer’s latest forecasts.

In 2019, the platform saw 205.3 per cent growth in as it drew in a huge number of users, especially children and teens. This year, eMarketer forecasts that TikTok’s UK user base will grow by 67 to 8.12m people. By 2021, it will surpass 10 million, growing by around 25 per cent. But growth will slow to single digits in 2022, as the app becomes heavily saturated among core younger users.

“TikTok had a breakout year in 2019, and it is incredibly popular among teens at this point,” said eMarketer principal analyst, Debra Aho Williamson. “Some are spending multiple hours per day on the app, which is a testament to the incredible stickiness of its scrolling video format. But it has yet to develop a strong following among older generations.”

This year, 20.2 per cent of UK social network users, or more than one in five, will use TikTok at least once a month. Despite having lower penetration than more established competitors, it’s one of the few social apps whose penetration is growing. Competition may also hinder growth for TikTok in the coming years.

“This year, we expect new entrants like Firework and legacy players like Instagram and Facebook to take on TikTok,” said Williamson. “Instagram is a particularly large threat; it recently added new tools to its Boomerang looping-effect feature that mimic similar features on TikTok.”
And while many marketers are curious about the app, several issues could hold back adoption. Because it is Chinese-owned, TikTok faces questions around censorship and data privacy, as well as brand safety.

“Properties like TikTok are supporting and creating new forms of self-expression, and brands want to tap into that,” Williamson said. “It’s an experiment for many marketers. In many ways, TikTok is where Facebook was in the late 2000s, and where Snapchat was three or four years ago.”