I’d like to see Instagram copy this.
In a move that I doubt many would have seen coming, TikTok is opening a new chain of delivery-only restaurants across the US, which will see the platform convert viral recipe videos from the app into themed menu items.
Partnering with Virtual Dining Concepts and Grubhub, TikTok’s restaurant service will update its menu quarterly, and will see TikTok-branded foods delivered to your door.
As reported by TechCrunch:
“The menu at the restaurants will draw upon the most popular viral food posts on TikTok, which people can then have delivered to their door via Grubhub. TikTok plans to launch around 300 locations that will start delivering dishes in March, with plans to open more than 1,000 restaurants by the end of next year.”
The model for TikTok’s food service is essentially the same as the one that YouTube celebrity Mr. Beast recently used to launch his chain of delivery only ‘Mr. Beast Burger’ restaurants, which has since delivered over a million burgers, and is expanding into new regions.
The process involves using staff and kitchens from other, existing restaurants to handle local orders, which means lower overheads, due to not operating physical stores, and more flexibility in scale and expansion.
Virtual Dining Concepts was involved in the Mr. Beast Burger project as well, so the company's well-versed in such an operation, and TikTok will be leaning on its expertise to stretch its branding into a whole new area. TikTok says that it will allocate half of any profits from food sales to the creators of the menu dishes.
So what can you expect to see on the TikTok Kitchen menu?
This could provide some indication – earlier this month, as part of its overview of product trends on the platform, TikTok shared this listing of the most popular foods of the year, based on video engagement.
Safe to say there’ll be a chicken sandwich on there someplace.
So why is TikTok getting into the restaurant game?
Well, it’s not, in any significant, long-term way. The TikTok Kitchen project will be more of a branding vehicle for the platform, to help generate more buzz, and tap into rising trends in food delivery. The project also aligns with TikTok’s broader eCommerce plans, in getting even more users to order and pay for things in the app.
Once you’ve established transactional behaviors, that then leads to more comfort in the same, and that could be another way for TikTok to generate more interest in in-stream shopping for other products and services.
But it does also feel like a challenge to Instagram, which essentially copies everything that TikTok does, just weeks behind.
Will Instagram also move into virtual restaurants and food orders? 'Insta-Burger' maybe?
It seems unlikely that IG will follow-suit in this case, but then again, maybe, if TikTok’s project works, and helps generate more hype around the app.
Who are we kidding - if it works, Instagram’s going to copy it. Prepare for a ‘Reels Risotto’ and an ‘IGBLT’ by about May or so next year.