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Temu: The Marketing Strategy That Outperformed Amazon

8 minute read

Move over Amazon and Shein—a new eCommerce platform is on the block, disrupting the status quo and capturing the attention of basically everyone who loves a bargain. Temu, launched by Chinese eCommerce giant Pinduoduo in July 2022, has been downloaded 50 million times, making it more popular than Amazon. So, what’s behind the brand’s meteoric growth? Insanely low prices, combined with clever use of social commerce and influencer marketing.

Ready to explore the social media and influencer marketing strategy of one of the fastest-growing brands of all time? Let’s dive in. 

Temu: History of the brand and why they're interesting

Temu, pronounced "tee-moo" and short for "Team Up, Price Down," connects consumers directly with Chinese manufacturers. Economies of scale make it possible to offer products at astonishingly low prices, often less than a dollar. A quick look at shows headphones for €0.98, sunglasses for €0.79, and smart watches for around €2. 

Temu has stepped into a fiercely competitive landscape, where eCommerce giants like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Wish, and AliExpress are already established. However, it manages to stand out with even more affordable prices, undercutting the competition. 

The brand has a well-executed marketing strategy, including discounts, gamification, and lucrative cash rewards for referring the app to friends. Temu has harnessed the power of viral content on platforms like Instagram and TikTok, attracting millions of views and effectively building brand awareness.

While Temu may seem like an overnight sensation, its parent company, Pinduoduo, is actually an eCommerce heavy-weight in Asia, generating $18.9 billion in revenue in 2022. Their Asian-inspired approach to social commerce and influencer marketing is a key reason why Temu was able to grow so quickly and significantly. 

Let’s take a closer look at the brand’s influencer marketing strategy. 

Temu influencer marketing strategy

Let’s take a deeper look at Temu’s collaborations with influencers on Instagram and TikTok. 

Temu influencer strategy on Instagram

In the last 12 months, Temu was mentioned by 1,5k creators in 3,7k posts. Considering that competitor Shein works with over 13,000 creators, it seems that Temu has some catching up to do. That said, quality over quantity is hardly a bad thing. Finding the right influencers to work with is super important. 

The brand’s creators often post educational, how-to content, like makeup tutorials. They often combine this approach with topical trends, like Barbie. Here you can see a Barbie makeup tutorial:

Who does Temu work with?

The brand works predominantly with micro influencers. These mid-size influencers with 10k-100k followers make up 54% of Temu ’s collaborations. 37% of the brands collaborations are with macro influencers (100k - 1M followers) and only 5% are with mega influencers (over 1M followers):

This is a sensible strategy as smaller accounts are often more relatable and authentic than mega celebrity influencers, and the engagement rate tends to be higher. 

Here are the top five influencers that Temu has worked with, organized by the number of mentions. Janes.bloggerwelt, with 16.4k followers, has mentioned Temu 57 times: 

Despite the focus on micro and macro influencers, the brand does work with big names sometimes. For example, they challenged Jason Derulo to see how many items he could purchase with $100. This helped amplify the Super Bowl ads the brand spent $14 million on. Jason shared that he “couldn’t believe the deals” and invited people to check out his haul, using the brand’s slogan as a hashtag #shoplikeabillionaire:

Temu has worked with 1.6k creators so far, and 943 of them are from the U.S. This makes sense considering how the U.S. market has been a huge focus for the brand since the launch in September 2022. The brand also collaborates with 145 creators based in the UK, 140 in Germany and 107 in Italy:

Temu works with many influencers on a one-time basis. 68% of all of Temu’s collabs are one-time collabs, 31% are short term (up to 6 months) and only 1% are long term. However, the brand is still new and was only launched in July 2022. So, some of their current collabs could become more permanent. 

Temu influencer strategy on TikTok

Over the last 12 months on TikTok, 158 creators mentioned Temu in 297 Postings. TikTok videos from the brand's creators drive 82.3k views on average, and can reach a potential audience of 248.6m.

The TikTok reels creators share on behalf of the brand are often unboxing videos, or creators showing how happy they are with their hauls. Occasionally they present specific products. It’s not just fashion and beauty. Influencers share all kinds of products, from cat beds to travel pillows and mini washing machines. Here are some examples:

A look at the brand’s collaboration timeline shows that 31 of the 158 TikTok creators have posted several times about the brand. This reflects a sense of loyalty, which is a sound strategy as multiple mentions by an influencer typically have a more substantial impact on their audience than just one. Here is a glimpse of their collaboration timeline, as taken from the Storyclash platform:

Temu’s social media strategy: owned channels

Now, let’s take a look at the brand’s owned media strategy.

The brand is present on all main channels and boasts 1.1 million Instagram followers, 596.7k TikTok followers, 2.3 million Facebook followers, and 139k YouTube subscribers.

Temu Instagram strategy

Temu has seen explosive growth over the past few months, which is reflected in their social media trajectory. The brand had 378k followers in June 2023, which rose to 1.1m in September 2023, just a year after their launch in the U.S.:

On average, an Instagram post reaches 67k users and drives an estimated media value of €2.4k. A story reaches 30k users and drives an estimated media value of €1.1k.

40% of the brand’s Instagram content is made up of stories, 35% posts and 24% reels.

The brand tends to engage its followers with relatable, meme-based content. The tone is light-hearted and humorous, poking fun at everyday situations. Like this:

Their Instagram stories are not the aggressive, salesy marketing you might expect considering the brand’s image and pricing strategy. Instead, the brand incorporates tasteful product photos and promotions, fun contests and giveaways, and IGC (influencer generated content). 

Temu TikTok strategy

The brand’s TikTok has also seen tremendous growth. In May 2023, the brand had 52k TikTok followers. As of September 2023, that number has risen to 596.7 TikTok followers.

On average, a TikTok reel from the brand reaches 42.9k people, driving 3k likes and an engagement rate of 0.7%

In terms of TikTok content strategy, the brand incorporates a lot of IGC content where influencer showcase their hauls:

What can your brand learn from Temu?

Your brand might not be able to match Temu's prices and direct relationships with Chinese manufacturers. Nonetheless, there are several valuable lessons and strategies that can serve as inspiration for your brand's growth and success:

Challenges and games

Take a page from Temu's gamification playbook by introducing engaging challenges and games to your marketing strategy. Temu's "shop like a billionaire" challenge captured the attention of creators and celebrities, fostering excitement and interaction around the brand. Temu also regularly shares contests and games, encouraging users to engage with the brand to win brand credits. 

Referral programs

Temu's successful referral program incentivizes customers to recommend the brand to their friends and connections. Word-of-mouth referrals are a powerful and free way to expand your customer base, as people are more inclined to believe their friends than paid advertising. 

Rapid market entry

Temu's swift market entry into the US and Canada underscores the importance of seizing opportunities quickly when expanding into new markets. Be prepared to move decisively when market conditions are favorable to gain a competitive edge.

Emotional appeal

Consider appealing to consumers' emotional needs in addition to highlighting the functional benefits. Temu's slogan "shop like a billionaire" taps into customers' desires for a  premium shopping experience at a time when many are feeling the pinch due to inflation. Temu’s messaging reflects people’s deeper needs. They don’t want cheap stuff. They want to feel special. 

Influencer Generated Content

Influencer content feels more authentic than a paid modeling shoot. So, don’t be afraid to use influencer content on your website and app. Just make sure the rights in your influencer contract let you do that!

Promote your influencer marketing program

The best influencers are authentic. And who is more authentic than a current customer who follows your social media pages and purchases your products?

Temu regularly promotes their influencer marketing program and encourages customers to sign up. They offer $300 seeding balance and up to $100,000 affiliate cash per month:

They don’t just say they have an influencer program. They call out top-performing influencers with an influencer leaderboard and share how much money other influencers have earned:

Want to check out the influencer marketing strategies of more top brands?

Check out how Temu competitor Shein approaches influencer marketing, and how the brand has used social media to drive growth. 

About Storyclash - the brand behind the insights

Storyclash is the AI-powered Influencer Marketing Platform that helps your team drive sales and brand awareness. Discover authentic creators, measure the impact of your campaigns and manage all your data in one place. Fast-growing DTCs like  Bears With Benefits, Junglück or Kapten & Son, as well as large, established companies like Vodafone, Lululemon or Kaufland use Storyclash to get more out of their influencer marketing.