social media

Women in their thirties love TikTok, and brands are taking notice

Although the app has become synonymous with Gen Z, thirtysomething women now make up a substantial slice of the app's users.
article cover

Francis Scialabba

· 6 min read

Ashley Dingess is a 34-year-old woman from Temecula, California. She runs a YouTube channel about Disneyland, has worked in the music industry for 13 years—and loves TikTok.

She downloaded the app last year after friends in the music industry, who she described as “10 years younger,” urged her to join. “In the beginning of Covid they were like, ‘You gotta get on TikTok! Get on TikTok!’ And I was like, you guys, I'm not doing your stupid dances,” she told Marketing Brew.

One pandemic later, Dingess is now totally hooked. “I browse TikTok way too much,” she enthused.

As it turns out, Dingess is not alone. Although TikTok has become synonymous with Gen Z, women in their thirties make up a substantial slice of the app's users. Women in the US aged 30 to 39 represent 13.8% of the app’s user base on Android devices, per App Ape research published on Statista this year. They’re the second largest group of monthly active TikTok users (girls and young women from 10–19 account for 16.4%).

And where users lead, brands follow. Marketers at brands ranging from Fabletics to St. Jude are making TikTok videos with millennial women in mind.

Allll the 30s ladies, all the 30s ladies 🎶

Aubrie Richey, VP, customer acquisition and media for TechStyle Fashion Group, is one such marketer. Cofounded by Kate Hudson, Fabletics is an activewear brand that lives under the TechStyle umbrella that Richey said makes an effort to appeal to women in their thirties on TikTok.

Richey said TikTok data shared with Fabletics shows that women in this age group are spending “increasingly more time on the platform and engaging with a variety of content.” To capture their attention, Fabletics posts TikToks that not only highlight its clothing, but also include practical tips—think workout tutorials and smoothie recipes.

According to Richey, these women are “at a point in their lives where they still enjoy the mindless entertainment value of social platforms, but also crave more stimulating content.” She said Fabletics has seen success (such as improved click-through rates and customer acquisition costs) with “aspirational” content, such as TikToks that address “personal, familial, and even professional aspirations as well.” Some of its TikToks are geared toward moms; one of its videos promotes the brand’s “mom and me” collection with a mother and daughter dancing together in Fabletics gear.

Fabletics creates a mix of organic content and paid TikTok ads with demographic-related and interest-based targeting. “We create content to appeal to different demographics, knowing that the algorithms deliver accordingly,” Richey said.

But she added that TikTok is teaching Fabletics to avoid making assumptions about what content will work for specific age groups; sometimes, the same piece of content will resonate with a 23-year-old and a 36-year-old.

“Creating content that is segmented and purposeful with creative tactics [can create] false assumptions about an audience, which is why we believe TikTok has been so powerful in breaking through these presumed audience barriers,” Richey told us.

Say woohoo to taboo

Micaela Birmingham is executive producer at Scary Mommy, a publisher and e-commerce brand that’s dedicated to all things motherhood. She leads TikTok accounts for both Scary Mommy and its Madge the Vag web series, the latter of which focuses on women’s health.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.

Birmingham said “taboo” topics play well with women in their 30s on TikTok. She pointed to a recent TikTok in which Madge the Vag answers questions about female ejaculation that many women might be afraid to ask. It garnered 9.2 million views and 11,700 comments, performing significantly better than some of Madge the Vag’s other TikToks, Birmingham explained.

She said many women over 30 grew up at a time “when it was not okay to say vagina out loud,” which could explain why this type of content performs well with them. “It’s our generation, not as much teenagers, that has these taboos to shed,” she added.

Low quality user-generated footage often works to Scary Mommy’s advantage as well. “Sometimes you can have the most beautiful cinematic, gorgeous TikTok, and these women are like ‘I don't care. Show me the baby eating peanut butter at your table with the terrible grainy cell phone footage, because that's what I want to see,’” Birmingham shared.

It's raw, unfiltered content like this that keeps women like Dingess—the Californian you met at the beginning of this piece—coming back. As she put it, the app shows that not everyone “lives a perfect life or has the perfect everything. It's a very real app.”

More on MomTok

ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization behind St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, has a social media following that its chief marketing officer, Emily Callahan, says skews heavily towards thirtysomething women, even on TikTok.

“Women in their 30s fall into that spot where they’ve spent most of their adult life with social media, so they’re very open-minded and willing to adopt new platforms as they arise,” she explained. “It’s a group that time and time again has proven that it has a strong affinity for our mission and our stories of inspiration and hope, and who have traditionally been powerful advocates and fundraisers.”

Callahan mentioned that TikToks featuring women and mothers in that age group have been part of ALSAC’s strategy on the platform, as well as generally creating content “through a family lens.”

This past December, ALSAC ran its first paid ad campaign on TikTok, which culminated in a video from Ashley Tisdale—a 35-year-old actress whose peers grew up watching her on TV—sharing the top three reasons why she supports St. Jude.

That video, combined with other patient-centered ones in the paid campaign, generated a total of 62+ million impressions, 55 million video views, and 2.3 million engagements throughout the month.

“When we look at our social platforms for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, this demographic makes up a large percentage of our followers across all platforms, so it’s not surprising that they are also taking to TikTok and showing up for brands there,” Callahan said.

Get marketing news you'll actually want to read

Marketing Brew informs marketing pros of the latest on brand strategy, social media, and ad tech via our weekday newsletter, virtual events, marketing conferences, and digital guides.