By Disha Chakraborty
Since September 2022, online e-commerce platform Temu has gained a significant amount of popularity in the United States. Despite its relatively recent release, Temu quickly became the most downloaded free app in the United States on both the Google and Apple app stores. Temu is characterized by its heavily discounted prices, advertising products from retailers like Lenovo at up to 90% off their original costs. Though it bears similarities to competing sites such as Shein and Wish.com, Temu’s unique and addictive design has given it a competitive edge. Its rapid growth in popularity as a foreign-based app has also raised some concerns about the company itself.
Source by Suha Tasfia
Many consumers continue to use Temu's services thanks to the low cost of goods, despite concerns about online privacy and safety.
Temu’s business model relies heavily on the appeal of its prices as well as the gamification of its shopping experience. Following its release, the app boasted a plethora of great deals, such as wireless earbuds for under $10, in the midst of a global inflation crisis. Temu also allows users to earn credits through a variety of spin-the-wheel games. Credits may also be earned if a user convinces multiple friends to join the app, which has contributed greatly to the success of the marketplace on global app stores.
"This app is actually very affordable! One of my favorite features is that, when you pay a certain amount, you even get a free gift,” sophomore Kai Tjioe said.
It is estimated that Temu has already spent over $2 billion in advertising and invests over $500 million dollars per quarter just to help keep their prices low. Breaking even financially is not currently a priority for the company; the current goal of the app is to attract as many customers as possible and eliminate competition with its extremely low prices. The way the site works is similar to Amazon, in which sellers can sell their products through the app. However, according to Temu, the heavily discounted prices are the result of these products being directly sourced from the manufacturers in China.
“‘I’ve always been suspicious of Temu as a marketplace. The prices just seem too good to be true...’”
Many NHP students are skeptical of the app and with reason. Temu’s parent company, PDD Holdings, owns a similar app called Pinduoduo. In the past, Pinduoduo has been removed from the Google and Apple app stores due to breaches of user privacy. Cybersecurity companies have claimed that this mainstream app escalated its privileges to monitor and access private messages, location data, and activity on other apps. Although it is still not fully known, many speculate that companies like Pinduoduo are selling this highly valuable information to the Chinese government and other third-party companies. The major concerns regarding Temu’s sister company are contributing to the general suspicion of the app itself.
“Although I’ve heard quite a lot about the Temu app, the privacy problems are making me extremely skeptical,” sophomore Emiliana Dajdea said. “The allegations against Temu about the company selling data to the Chinese government are very serious and concerning to me.”
In addition to security claims, Temu is also facing many ethical concerns. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated in a report that accusations were made against Temu’s parent company, alleging that the company required employees to work upwards of 380 hours per month. Furthermore, an investigation conducted by the US government has claimed that it is very likely that Temu’s supply chains are dependent on forced labor. Amidst the many lawsuits and allegations that have been plaguing the company, it remains uncertain what the future holds for Temu.
“I recall many of my friends purchasing from the app when it first launched,” junior Anna Goldhirsch said. “However, I’ve always been suspicious of Temu as a marketplace. The prices just seem too good to be true. Considering the ethical concerns as well, I’m not sure if I’ll purchase products from the app.”