TikTok turns Costco into a fashion magnet

Discussion
Sources: TikTok/@costcocouture; @emilyjeanne333; @couponcutiecanada
Aug 22, 2022

Users of TikTok and other social platforms are sharing their finds at Costco, helping to make the warehouse club a destination for bargain fashion.

The search term, “costco clothing finds,” on TikTok has 1.8 billion views. Among popular hashtags on TikTok, #costcofashion has 5.8 million views; #costcocouture, 5.1 million; and #costcoclothes, 5.3 million.

The TikTok posts showcase short videos of fashionistas bragging about finding major deals from Tommy Hilfiger, Pendleton, Puma, DKNY, Uggs, Calvin Klein, Fila and numerous other fashion, casual and active brands.

@theashleybell

Costco coming in clutch #costcofinds #costcotiktok #fila #whatibought #outfitinspo

♬ original sound – Ashley Bell

The pandemic has increased the appeal of casual and comfortable clothing that Costco heavily features on its selling floor.

“It’s all about comfort,” California-based shopper Tiffany Weis told the fashion blog Refinery29. “It’s kind of like a whole new mindset.”

The 53-year-old said she would have “never thought” to buy clothes at Costco before 2020.

Costco is also earning points for being able to secure some of fashion’s hot brands and being on-trend. The convenience of one-stop shopping and saving money holds greater appeal amid escalating gas prices and rampant inflation.

“I think a lot of people are just really interested in the affordability, the convenience and then kind of taking part of this hype, which is kind of a very interesting phenomenon for Costco,” Frances Sola-Santiago, the author of the Refinery29 article, told NPR.

The social media action, also taking place with “hauls” on Instagram and Youtube, brings Costco’s in-store treasure hunt experience online. Costco can offer a deeper breadth compared to a typical off-pricer. A deal for Hunter boots, for example, will be stacked high across a wide range of sizes.

@costcocouture

Costco Couture 8/31/21 #costcocouture #costco #hunterboots #costcofashion #costcofinds #costcobuys #costcomusthaves #fypシ #fallfashion

♬ Only girl in september – veggibeats

As with off-pricers, part of the appeal is the discovery process and thrill of scoring a deal in an unexpected space.

“A lot of my clothes that I wear I get compliments on every single day,” Jennifer Maldonado, who runs the TikTok account @costcocouture, told NPR. “And I always say it’s from Costco, and I get the same response — like, a blank look on their face. Like, really — Costco? Heck, yeah.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why are Costco fashion finds going viral on social media? Do you think Costco should be taking action to build on the social media buzz or would that likely backfire?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"I say let the user-generated content speak for itself."
"User-driven social media platforms like TikTok have amplified what used to be known as 'word of mouth.'"
"This is amazing PR for Costco. But I doubt the brands involved envisioned this kind of exposure and coverage when they agreed to sell at Costco."

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20 Comments on "TikTok turns Costco into a fashion magnet"


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Christine Russo
BrainTrust

TikTok impacts everything and this is just another example. Amazon has jumped on this by having robust affiliate programs (I’m not sure if Costco does as well) and creators subsequently have Amazon storefronts.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

I don’t see the advantage in joining the social media wagon train. Costco manages to create interest because of what they offer and the price at which they offer it. Every customer recognizes value when they see it.

Dick Seesel
BrainTrust

User-driven social media platforms like TikTok have amplified what used to be known as “word of mouth.” There is an authenticity to these viral moments — shoppers coming to Costco for the wine, the toilet paper or the bulk packages of chicken breasts seem genuinely delighted by their discoveries in the apparel area.

For Costco to capitalize on the “element of surprise” is a tricky prospect. The company would surely like its shoppers to spend more time in its apparel areas, but not at the risk of seeming inauthentic.

Kai Clarke
BrainTrust

Costco is a price, value, retail leader that happens to be a warehouse club. Once we get past the “club” label, we quickly realize that great brands, at great prices, are offered everyday at Costco. Why wouldn’t you shop there?

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

Costco fashion is going viral because who doesn’t love the inside track on great deals on great brands? And what I find interesting about Costco is that it seems like a retailer that is on the shopper’s side — bring the deals to us, for us. The wholesale mentality, the food, the brands at great prices, the treasure hunt, all the ingredients that make something like this work organically.

As for whether they could take action, I think the best action is to continue to put great product at great prices out there and let the earned (and free) social media run its course.

David Spear
BrainTrust

If I were Costco, I’d stick to my core business philosophies and continue to find high value, interesting items that attract consumers to the stores. Obviously, it’s working and social fashionistas are doing their part with viral messaging.

Tara Kirkpatrick
BrainTrust

I say let the user-generated content speak for itself. When brands jump on the bandwagon (especially when they don’t have anything original to add), it takes away from the power of UGC. Costco’s digital focus should be on developing self-scan check out, so it stops losing members to Sam’s Club and BJ’s over its long store lines.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

Even before the TikTok trend, Costco had a massive apparel business with sales of over $6.5 billion in the U.S. alone. All TikTok is doing is highlighting to a wider audience some of the great deals that are and always have been available. This is appealing to consumers as the discounts are deep and they are often only available for a limited time. I don’t think Costco needs to do much here other than do what it has always done. It could build more of a social presence, but would this be as effective as the organic spread it is current benefiting from?

Scott Norris
Guest

If I were a marketing manager at Costco, I’d probably want to reach out low-key and informally to some of these influencers just to initiate conversation and gain insights, rather than trying to build a posse of talent. Because once you’re on the payroll, you lose the authenticity. Always good, however, to have a reputation of being friendly with those who want to say nice things about you!

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

This is amazing PR for Costco. But I doubt the brands involved envisioned this kind of exposure and coverage when they agreed to sell at Costco.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

This discussion reminds me of a sales meeting I was leading at the headquarters of one of high fashion’s iconic brands. As I was preparing to begin my presentation, the CMO walked in, dressed from head to toe in the brand. I looked at what I was wearing, and literally everything I was wearing was from Costco. At first, I wondered if I had made some poor choices, but when the meeting was over and the CMO congratulated us on a very productive and effective discussion, I realized what the TikTokers are just now figuring out: there are real fashion finds waiting to be found at Costco. Long-time Costco shoppers love the treasure hunts there, and I suspect that’s why sharing their treasures on TikTok has become so popular. I think Costco needs to stay the course and keep delivering value and fashion, and let the social media world do what it does.

Mohamed Amer, PhD
BrainTrust

The hunt experience is alive and well at Costco, with surprises on every store trip. The thrill of finding high-quality, value-priced, functional yet trendy clothing is satisfying, and TikTok is where millions share and amplify their experiences. Costco provides the products and material for TikTok users to create viral video clips that resonate with the social mood and sentiment. Costco should keep doing what it does best, and TikTok creators will do the rest.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust
Richard Hernandez
Merchant Director
5 months 10 days ago

Costco has always been a destination for great fashion finds with established brands at great pricing, so its not unusual to see the love on social media.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

As they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Costco has a win here. I do not see how getting involved could improve it. I do see how they could damage it. Let the public speak. They carry more weight than any message developed internally.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

This is good for Costco. But as with all viral explosions, Costco needs to plan beyond TikTok. Going viral is like a wave in a football stadium – hard to start, exciting if it happens, and always doomed to dampen out at some point. The key question must always be what you do next – because it is extraordinarily rare to repeat something through viral means.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Social media giveth, and social media taketh away. Costco would be well advised to enjoy the spotlight as long as it lasts, but keep focused on their core strategy. The social media spotlight will move on soon, it always does. So no need to take action. This too shall pass.

Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

TikTok trends come and go with each passing day and week. However Costco should ride out the momentum with this one and see where things go. The viral nature of the TikTok app is a value proposition that is becoming increasingly challenging for brands and retailers to ignore. Costco has benefited from storytelling and authentic content on TikTok, and it’s becoming a critical competitive differentiator for brands.

What was once a pure social media strategy play using the Facebook and Instagram platforms, content creation on TikTok has democratized the process so that affiliate programs and micro-influencers have become a powerful force to be reckoned with. It’s essential that brands and retailers determine a TikTok engagement strategy, as this is where the next generations of shoppers are.

Patrick Jacobs
BrainTrust

There will always be a trending spotlight for brands going viral on TikTok, Costco would be best suited to double down on this interest. As the economy continues to push shoppers into their ecosystem the social media buzz will act as a conduit for exploration within the apparel and show offerings. The content is gold and Costco should explore ways to use the user-generated content to its advantage.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

The fashion buzz is successful because it is from consumers, not from Costco. Part of the reason for success is that Costco has never been perceived as a place for fashion. However, the emphasis on comfort, affordability, and convenience are good reasons for purchasing clothes at Costco. Given the turnover in Costco products, the idea is a fashion find is also an appeal for Costco. Keeping the philosophy of a treasure hunt is more important for Costco than chasing after a particular category.

Brad Halverson
Guest

The current economic realities can make finding value more important, especially at Costco. Costco is already a treasure hunt in some ways, so if customers are having fun with it, then great, let them build interest and share about their product finds. Great brand awareness.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"I say let the user-generated content speak for itself."
"User-driven social media platforms like TikTok have amplified what used to be known as 'word of mouth.'"
"This is amazing PR for Costco. But I doubt the brands involved envisioned this kind of exposure and coverage when they agreed to sell at Costco."

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