A Super Bowl commercial for ecommerce platform Temu depicts a woman scoring outrageously cheap deals, including a $9.99 red evening gown. “Shop like a billionaire,” the ad says.
It turns out American consumers worried about inflation enjoy Temu bestsellers like ~$10 Lenovo earbuds and ~$3 sunglasses.
It’s now the most-downloaded app in the US, with 24m downloads since its September launch and 11m+ monthly active users, per CNN.
Why’s it so cheap?
Temu is based in Boston, but owned by China’s PDD Holdings Inc. PDD also owns Pinduoduo, a shopping platform with ~900m users, and generated $14.7B in 2021 revenue.
As such, it can cut out the middleman and ship directly from China, with no need for US warehouses, in ~7-15 days, per Wired.
Temu drives prices even lower with perks like free shipping and referral-based discounts, but it’s unclear if that’s sustainable. Some analysts think it may be subsidizing customers to gain users.
Is the stuff any good?
At first blush, Temu looks kind of like Wish, whose products are often so bad it’s become a meme.
The influencers with whom Temu has partnered may declare everything in their hauls as “sooooo cute,” but other creators have noted a mix of good and meh products, longer shipping times, and damaged or incorrect items.
It’s also racked up 127 complaints on the Better Business Bureau website, where its rating is a measly 1.8 stars.
Meanwhile, in China, the deaths of two Pinduoduo workers have led many to call for a boycott — which is reminiscent of Shein, another fast-fashion, bargain app under fire for labor and environmental concerns.