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Let’s Talk About TikTok’s Lifestyle Influencers

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Northeastern chapter.

If you’re on TikTok, you’ve most likely seen a creator who refers to themself as a lifestyle influencer. 

Let’s use Teresa Caruso as an example. Caruso, username @teresalauracaruso, is a 23 year-old lifestyle TikToker. She began posting on TikTok in January 2020 and her account has since gained over 3.5 million followers. The majority of her videos, including her most viewed ones, are from her “Amazon Finds” series, in which she recommends various Amazon products and shows why she finds them useful and enjoys them. In one of her most recent videos, titled “May Amazon Favorites,” she seamlessly recommends a set of towel organizers, a cookware set with detachable handles, a travel floss dispenser, a chic sunglasses case and a gadget that allows you to hang multiple wardrobe items on one hanger. Despite this video featuring a wild cocktail of fairly unnecessary products, the whole video is cohesive and relaxing due to her impressive narration and consistent color scheme. Let’s use Kaeli Mae, username @kaelimaee, as another example. Not only does she feature the same monochromatic, minimalist aesthetic as Caruso does in her videos, but she also posts frequent “Amazon Unboxing” videos. 

I absolutely LOVE watching the type of content that Caruso and Mae post and have definitely bought some of their suggested products. Although these lifestyle influencers’ content are super fun to watch, they also play a pretty significant role in overconsumption. TikTokers like Caruso and Mae have a strong influence on their audience and try to convince them to purchase their recommendations. Lifestyle influencers have an impressive ability to advertise a desirable, trendy lifestyle and utilize digital features that allow their viewers to easily purchase their recommended products, thus fueling overconsumption.

There are a variety of unique digital features on Amazon that have allowed the site to outshine many in-person retailers. One digital feature on Amazon is the Amazon Storefront. If the viewer of Caruso or Mae’s TikToks decides they want to buy an Amazon product they have shown in a video, they can go to the TikToker’s profile and click the link to their Amazon Storefront, a feature on Amazon in which influencers can conveniently list their favorite products and recommendations for their followers. If a follower clicks on the product through the influencer’s storefront and purchases it, the influencer earns commission. This is a prominent way that influencers, particularly lifestyle Tiktokers, have begun earning money from their content. Due to easy access to the Amazon Storefronts that Caruso and Mae link on their TikTok profiles, viewers are more likely to purchase the recommended products. Influencers’ persuasion of their viewers to buy certain products leads to a high level of impulse buying and overconsumption through online shopping.

Lifestyle influencers often promote whatever aesthetic is trending at the time. A particular type of lifestyle that has been especially popular this year is the clean girl aesthetic. In this aesthetic, all of one’s belongings are minimalistic and have a consistent color scheme with an emphasis on being very invested in self-care. Teresa Caruso and Kaeli Mae are prime examples of this and how TikTokers make it look desirable for their viewers. While this trendy aesthetic appears to be minimalistic, it is actually the opposite. This is the irony of clean girl minimalism; it is more closely associated with overconsumption and the constant purchasing of new and trendy items to replace outdated items that no longer fit the aesthetic. Recently, viral products are consistently advertised by TikTokers that fit the clean girl aesthetic such as the Drunk Elephant Bronzing Drops and the 40 oz Stanley Tumbler. Both of these products seamlessly fit in with the desired appearance. The bronzing drops incorporate self-care, and the Stanley Tumblers most often shown are of muted colors such as beige or white to fit in with the minimalistic aesthetic.

Influencers often make products look desirable and necessary when there are other items that the average household already has that can be used in lieu of these influencer-advertised products. For instance, the popular Stanley Tumbler is no different than an average water bottle, an item that most people have in their houses already. This is especially true since the VSCO girl trend a few years ago caused HydroFlask water bottles to go viral. Chances are, the same people that bought those water bottles a few years ago are the people buying the newly viral Stanley Tumblers now. Thus, viewers following the trends advertised by lifestyle TikTokers, such as the current minimalist aesthetic, might fuel overconsumption. 

The minimalist lifestyle has become significant in consumer culture and increasingly trendy on TikTok over the past year. Minimalism often features a monochromatic color scheme and lack of clutter, both of which are very noticeable in Caruso and Mae’s homes and TikTok content. In every video, a variety of exclusively beige, light pink and white products are featured. Every part of Caruso and Mae’s homes that are featured in their TikToks are pristine and flawless. By choosing to only include products and parts of their homes that go along with the attractive minimalist aesthetic, influencers adhere to the current minimalism trend which increases their popularity. At the same time, they advertise a flawless and aesthetically pleasing lifestyle that viewers want to model their own lives after. By creating their TikToks in a way that exclusively features this aesthetic, lifestyle TikTokers are able to convince their viewers that they too should implement a monochromatic and organized aesthetic into their home by purchasing the recommended products.

TikTok is an excellent medium for advertising due to the customer engagement marketing strategy that is used by influencers. Consumers rely heavily on reviews to decide whether they should make a purchase or not which explains why social media marketing has skyrocketed in popularity. What is designed to appear as authentic reviews and experiences shared by creators is an extremely effective way to advertise a product. Whether the review is actually authentic is often a mystery. Viewers often debate influencers’ motivations behind recommending a product, wondering if they actually use it or are just getting paid. Despite this suspected inauthenticity, the customer engagement influencers elicit through their recommendations has become a driving force in overconsumption.

The main purpose of lifestyle TikTokers’ content is to share their personal experiences and opinions on whether or not their viewers should buy a certain product and adopt a certain way of life. Since customer engagement is a key component in successful advertising, TikTok content that praises certain products is a majorly persuasive marketing strategy. Influencers like Caruso and Mae always appear very authentic and truthful when explaining why their viewers need to purchase a product. As long as it appears that they are authentic, whether they’re actually telling the truth doesn’t matter. It is already effective.

Despite researching and learning so much about this, I personally continue to contribute to the problem. I’d be embarrassed to admit how many things I’ve bought on Amazon because it was recommended to me on TikTok. Going forward, I definitely want to try to think more before I buy, and I encourage you to do the same. Ask the question of whether or not you really need that new water bottle, aesthetic piece of decor, etc. 

Courtney Glazer

Northeastern '26

Courtney Glazer is a second year student at Northeastern university with a combined major of Media and Screen Studies and English and a minor in Brand Management. She is passionate about writing honest, creative works for Her Campus.