To read this content please select one of the options below:

Uses and gratifications sought by pre-adolescent and adolescent TikTok consumers

Christina Bucknell Bossen (Strategy Marketing Innovation, Kingston University, London, UK)
Rita Kottasz (Strategy Marketing Innovation, Kingston University, London, UK)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Article publication date: 27 November 2020

Issue publication date: 5 December 2020




The purpose of this paper was to explore the uses and gratifications sought by the primary target market (pre-adolescent and adolescent groups) of a new social media site, TikTok. The paper also sought to identify how much of a role the motivations of self-expression, social recognition and fame-seeking (important considerations within adolescent psychology development) played in the use of this particular social networking sites (SNS).


Following meticulous sampling procedures, ensuring national representation and stringent ethical practices, self-completion questionnaires were sent to pupils at 60 schools in the five key administrative regions of Denmark. The data was examined using analysis of variation tests, followed by a two-step cluster analysis using the log-likelihood method.


The findings indicated that passive consumptive behaviours were prevalent among both pre-adolescent and adolescent groups and that the gratification of entertainment/affect was the primary driver behind all behaviours: passive consumptive, participatory and contributory. Pre-adolescent groups were more active and heavier users of TikTok than were adolescents. In line with adolescent psychology theories, the authors found that contributory behaviours were motivated by a wish to expand one’s social networks, by fame-seeking, self-expression and identity-creation needs.

Social implications

Pre-adolescent consumers are heavier users and interact more with the TikTok SNS than adolescent consumers, including in relation to seeking out new social networks. This is potentially of great concern as children are less likely to understand the hidden dangers of online predatorial and privacy issues.


The authors extend their understanding of the contributory functions of SNS. Motivations of fame-seeking, self-expression and social recognition are key to understanding the uses and gratifications of TikTok consumers, especially during the adolescent years; contrary to scholarly assertions that these motives are often unconscious, the sample of this study assertively and explicitly confirmed these needs. A further novel insight of this study was that both the gratifications of relationship building and relationship maintenance were sought out via the contributory, rather than the participatory function of TikTok.



Bucknell Bossen, C. and Kottasz, R. (2020), "Uses and gratifications sought by pre-adolescent and adolescent TikTok consumers", Young Consumers, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 463-478.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles