How to overtake TikTok, YouTube and Amazon in four months – learnings for your business success

In just four months, an unknown shopping app has overtaken

  • TikTok,
  • YouTube,
  • Amazon,


It is now the most downloaded free app in both the Apple App and Google Play in the U.S. – and that’s just the start.

It follows the successful launches of other Chinese online businesses – who all think, act and communicate the same way,

  • Alibaba,
  • Shein,
  • ByteDance, – is like Amazon – but cheaper.

How did it grow so fast?

  • Users earn credits and better deals if they play certain in-app games,
  • Recommend the app to their friends on their social media,
  • Significant spend on paid advertising to launch. When TikTok (owner ByteDance) launched in 2018, the paid advertising spend was around $1 billion.



  • TEMU offers a wide range of products at dirt-cheap prices,


Who owns TEMU?

  • Pingduoduo is Temu’s Chinese parent company,
  • In 2020, Pingduoduo replaced Alibaba as the company with the most e-commerce customers in China – with over 730 million monthly active users—double the U.S. population.


Chinese business success in the western world – think, act and communicate differently,

The problem

  • AI-driven e-commerce businesses’ operating discovery algorithm recommendations software need an initial explosion of user data – the recommendations software does not work with small datasets,
  • Typically western world businesses focus on organic social media – not paid advertising in the startup phase, then top up with paid advertising once they have real people – with real traction.


The solution 

  • An aggressive high, spending marketing budget at launch is the price they pay to get off the ground.
  • The Western world approach is – to search first (Amazon)
  • The Chinese approach is – discovery first.


The playbook

1) Paid Advertising

  • TikTok 2018 launched the algorithm-powered discovery app in the U.S. ($1bn in paid advertising). The algorithms needed vast user data to run a successful and addictive – For You – page. It worked with nearly 100 million USA monthly active users.
  • TikTok used the same playbook with Douyin, its sister business – now with 600 million daily active users.
  • The playbook – have a long-term monetisation strategy, and spend a lot to get to scale and network effects as fast as possible.
  • Temu is following the same launch strategy.


2) Continuous Scroll

  • Like fast-fashion e-commerce giant SHEIN and other successful Chinese businesses like TikTok, they give the user an endless scroll – endless videos to entertain.
  • Temu serves an endless scroll of products you can buy. It lifts the dwell time on site – hoping to inspire you to buy more.
  • Big data needs new purchasing data from many buyers and new products. To personalise the shopping experience for the end user (SHEIN adds roughly 6,000 new items daily).


3) Discovery-Based

  • Discovery-based shopping copies the in-store shopping experience, walking the aisles of a department store – browsing,
  • Buyers spend time—and money—with apps they enjoy – discovery-based approach is this for many people,


4) Timing is everything

  • Launching before the USA holidays,
  • Spending big on paid advertising to promote the app,
  • Very low prices,
  • Continuous scroll-discovery business model,


It’s how Temu remains the USA’s most downloaded mobile app – ever. Temu is new and differentiated from its competitors to stand above the market’s noise.

2023 – what is your business’s advanced demand generation strategy?