Xiaohongshu Marketing Guide For Brands

In terms of innovation and development, the Chinese market is one of the most promising in the world, attracting thousands of foreign brands every day. Conscious of China’s potential, many companies are expanding their activities in the Middle Kingdom. While most people would think of platforms such as Tmall and JD.com, not everyone knows the Little Red Book app. 

Little Red Book or Xiaohongshu in Chinese, a social media platform and search engine popular in China, is growing in popularity all over the world. Xiaohongshu is known for its unique combination of social media and e-commerce features, which makes it an attractive platform for business users and consumers alike. 

As a Digital Marketing Agency providing services to foreign companies that want to conquer the Chinese market, we have created this marketing guide to give you some tips and advice on how to take advantage of Xiaohongshu.

The little red book is a must-have marketing platform in China

XiaoHongShu (Little Red Book) has successfully met the expectations of its users towards the platform by combining e-commerce and social features without sacrificing one of them, connecting Chinese consumers. Today it’s one of the most used online shopping platforms in China. 

• 70 million users
• a huge user database
• a customer’s trust
• cooperation with KHOL
• a creative customization format
• targeting  

Xiaohongshu: the Social Ecommerce App for Beauty & Life style brands in China

What is Xiaohongshu?

Founded in 2013 by Charlwin Mao and Miranda Qu, Xiaohongshu (小红书) also known as ‘The Little Red Book’ and ‘RED’, is a social media and one of the world’s largest community e-commerce multi-channel networks. Over the years, it has grown to become China’s foremost product review platform in terms of luxury, fashion and beauty products. In 2018 RED was listed on Forbes’ “Top 50 Most Innovative Companies in China 2018” list. 

As of 2021, Xiaohongshu is boasting over 300 million registered users and 85 million monthly active users. It was also valued at more than USD 3 billion in 2018 and has the support of giants like Alibaba, Tencent, Zhenfund, Genesis Capital, etc.

In the beginning, Little Red Book was only a platform on which users were able to review products and share their shopping experiences. However, in order to expand its activities, it has become pretty much like a combination of Pinterest and Instagram, with e-commerce features, creating its own cross-border e-commerce site ‘Fulishe’ (福利社).

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On Little Red Book app people are able to post and share user-generated content such as product reviews, travel tips, and lifestyle stories via pictures and short videos. Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu platform is also running RED Mall, a platform on which Chinese people can purchase products from foreign brands. 

Who are Little Red Book users

If you want to use Little Red Book for your business, it is important to know that, unlike other e-commerce sites, RED is especially popular among young people (Generation Z), as 70% of its users were born after 1990. Moreover, 80% of the target demographic are young Chinese women that mostly rely on KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders, which are influencers as we know them from Instagram) recommendations instead of just buying products from famous international brands. 

RED users live in 1st and 2nd tier cities, which means that most of the platform’s users have a higher purchasing power than other platforms’ users. They are interested in buying foreign products, especially beauty products, but they also create content themselves. Thanks to Little Red Book, users search for live-streaming videos while clicking on the links embedded in live to buy domestic and international products that are used by the KOL.

What has made the success of Little Red Book among Chinese Consumers?

Chinese consumers are increasingly wedded to their smartphones, taking their cues from KOLs, searching content tags and so on. The fact that Little Red Book was able to combine all the most popular tools on social media and e-commerce was the key to creating a perfect platform. By allowing consumers to share their reviews on products, it has created a large community, which is useful for international companies that are on this e-commerce platform.

One of the most important factors of Little Red Books’ success is its vicious circle. The more consumers are going to read other users’ reviews on this social platform, the more they want to buy the product to try it, sharing their own reviews after that with other potential Chinese customers. Take note that in order to maintain effective and qualitative reviews, Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu is using recommendation algorithms to encourage its Chinese users to interact with topics they are interested in.

China: Social E-commerce platforms trendsetter?

China is definitely a trendsetter when it comes to social e-commerce platforms. In China, social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo or Little Red Book are not just for staying in touch with friends and family – they’re also powerful tools for shopping and buying products.

The rise in consumption of the Chinese population has greatly contributed to the growth of e-commerce platforms. As we can see on this graphic, there were already more than 782 million online shoppers in China, and this number keeps increasing, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are also a lot of opportunities for foreign brands to expand their activities, promote their online store, and even sell products through social media (such as Little Red Book).

Fan Bingbing on RED

Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu is also the most popular social network among Chinese celebrities. Their official accounts are one of the most followed among all. Chinese consumers have become more discerning and selective than ever, and traditional marketing tactics such as celebrity endorsements and TV advertisements are no longer enough to capture their attention. 

For example, the famous actress and singer Fan Bing Bing, also shares her opinions on Little Red Book, promoting brands like Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal, and Häagen-Dazs. From the moment she recommends a product, be sure that this product will be out of stock a few hours later. After all, she is also known as the “Queen of sales”!

Why should you use Little Red Book App for your marketing in China?

Little Red Book has become the best platform for Key Opinion Leaders campaigns. This explains why a lot of KOLs and influencers have flourished on the platform, and we see them everywhere on the app. It is also one of the best platforms for any foreign company to run an innovative brand account and successful marketing campaigns, either through the brand’s official account or with the help of KOLs and user-generated content. 

As a social recommendation platform, Little Red Book is more similar to Douyin than it is to its other cross-border e-commerce competition such as Kaola and VIP.com. As such, its influence in the cross-border market goes well beyond the market share of goods sold. If you’d do a market survey, you will realise that Little Red Book has positioned itself as the go-to review website, with a strong focus on quality content. It’s a great platform where users engage in content of any kind, so it’s fairly easy to effectively promote any brand and gain a massive following network.

Shiseido’s Official account on Xiaohongshu

Many brands and cross-border retailers think that they should only sell authentic products on other apps such as Tmall, JD.com, and Taobao. But, the reality is that the competition is getting tougher than ever and it can be difficult to stand out amongst competitors from the Western world with an unknown brand account. Moreover, it is almost impossible for smaller brands to have access to Tmall, as setting up an online store there is more complicated and expensive.

You also have to take into account that the Chinese society is in constant evolution, with sophisticated young Chinese customers with a lot of disposable income, that are difficult to convince if they have never heard of your brand. That’s why Little Red Book seems to be standing out from the crowd when it comes to responding to today’s user preferences.

Word-of-mouth marketing on Little Red Book

As one of the most popular Chinese social media platforms, Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu is a wonderful tool when it comes to word-of-mouth marketing. Word-of-mouth is indeed the best way to convince Chinese shoppers to buy your products or to download an app, as they need to see some recommendations and good opinions before the purchase. Even Xiaohongshu’s success was possible thanks to word-of-mouth!

Even after major updates over the years, Little Red Book still kept its primary function: a committed social network providing detailed and objective advice about their purchases (called ‘notes’ or ‘biji’ 笔记). These reviews may also include pictures and videos, which are highly appreciated in terms of user experience. As the majority of the Chinese population relies on reviews and search engine quotes, Little Red Books’ strong focus still lies in keeping its dominant position in the Chinese market.

The advantage of Little Red Book in terms of ROI

If you are still hesitant about using Little Red Book for your marketing strategy, you have to consider the ROI (Return On Investment) you’ll have thanks to this platform. As a matter of fact, the budget you will have to invest in Little Red Book is expected to be 20% lower than Weibo. Most importantly, the return is expected to be 40% higher than what you would gain using Weibo. 

Little Red Book: A Powerful Tool for your E-reputation

As one of the most popular platforms for product reviews, Little Red Book is a powerful tool for your e-reputation. If Xiaohongshu users leave a review after purchasing your products or watching a live streaming session, it will generate much more visibility than just advertising your brand. Your consumers will drive your sales revenue and that’s why you have to understand their needs in order for them to recommend your brand to other users. 

Xiaohongshu/Little Red Book is fertile ground for Key Opinion Leaders

One of the best ways to promote your brand and products is to hire KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and KOC (Key Opinion Consumers) that have a huge community online and are even more popular than celebrities in terms of communication and marketing. 

KOLs are really the basis of Little Red Book’s success, to the point where Little Red Book decided to launch its platform “品牌合作人” on which companies are able to find their KOL for collaboration. Since 2019, only KOLs with more than 10,000 can apply for this program.

One of the most famous KOL in China is Austin Li (李佳琦), considered as the “King of Lipstick”.

At Gentlemen Marketing Agency, we have a KOL-dedicated team that knows exactly the expectations and shopping experiences of Little Red Book users. We have collaborated with many KOLs over the years, and we are able to hire the best Key Opinion Leader to promote your brand. According to your needs and guidelines, we can create a unique and efficient SEO strategy and campaigns such as live streaming, short videos, banners, reviews, etc. Moreover, thanks to our international team, we know exactly when to run marketing campaigns in terms of special events and holidays, like the 11.11 shopping festival and so on. 

How can Beauty & Lifestyle brands take advantage of Xiaohongshu?

Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu is an app full of opportunities for brands wanting to expand their activities in China as well as to raise their brand awareness. However, Little Red Book is a very particular platform compared to other western social media. Thus, you have to understand how the app works and how to take advantage of it.

The importance of having a verified account

Casio’s Official account on Xiaohongshu

Going through business registration is very easy in comparison to other platforms and having a verified account on Little Red Book is mandatory if you want to sell your products on the platform. Chinese people are quite cautious when it comes to brands that they have never heard of. Thus, if you have an official account, they will be more confident. Little Red Book is like other platforms such as Tmall, JD.com, Taobao, and WeChat, you will need to gain Chinese peoples’ trust. However, the particularity of Little Red Book is that individual vendors are not able to open their own stores. 

How to Register an Official Account on Little Red Book?

The first thing you’ll need in order to be able to sell your products on Little Red Book is to register. To do so, you will have to create an official account by clicking on ‘小红书入驻平台’. You will have to submit official documentation of your company as well as bank details to complete business registration. 

Registering on Little Red Book can be quite complicated if you don’t understand Chinese, as there’s a lot of paperwork to do (in Chinese of course). After registering, you will need to wait for around three days before starting publishing and selling your goods. After signing the user agreement, you’ll have to complete a series of training modules in order to understand and master all the functionalities.

Given this long procedure and requirements both in terms of time and language, the best way to avoid all this paperwork is to hire a marketing agency that will do all this for you. You can contact us and we will get in touch with you to create your official account on Xiaohongshu as well as give you a few tips to enter the Chinese market without a hitch.

Paid Advertising on Little Red Book

Before starting planning your advertising strategies, you have to know that, unlike other e-commerce platforms, Little Red Book does not provide display ad services. The app mostly relies on its community and social interactions between users and KOLs. So, if you want to advertise your brand, it will be better to hire a KOL who will directly promote your products by promoting your products and live streaming, which is not that popular on other e-commerce platforms.

As a matter of fact, Xiaohongshu’s main asset is to reflect reality based on consumers’ clear and objective reviews. Thus, the rules are the same as on other apps, it is forbidden to use words such as ‘best’, ‘first’, ‘top’ etc. in order to avoid misleading. 

However, qualified brands are allowed to create their own digital stores, for which the application charges technical fees and a commission of up to 5% per transaction. And, for the biggest brands, it is possible to advertise their products, for example when users open the app, they will see a pop-up ad. To do so, you’ll have to log into your business account and look for ‘advertising qualification certification’ and submit all the required documents. After that, you’ll be able to properly advertise your brand.

Apple’s pop-up ad on Xiaohongshu

It is also possible to integrate ads that will appear in the news on the ‘Discovery’ and ‘Follow’ pages, or use the hot topic page to display your ad. You can also advertise by creating customizable stickers for special events. Users will then be able to put the sticker on their stories.

Shiseido’s own stickers

The more you’ll innovate, the more you will be able to stand out on Little Red Book / Xiaohongshu.

RED Stores

While most Chinese social media apps offer some kind of integration in terms of the e-commerce section, some of them have also built their own stores, such as Xiaohongshu. In 2014, following its growing success and popularity, Xiaohongshu completed the launch of its own cross-border platform: ‘RED Store’. Thanks to that new functionality, the Chinese were able to purchase overseas products from overseas brands directly through the app. 

If you want to sell your products on Xiaohongshu, you will have the choice between opening your own store or selling your products directly through the platform. However, you will have more benefits by opening your own store in terms of branding, marketing, logistics network, communication and control of your activities.

Ruben’s RED Store on Xiaohongshu

By opening your RED store, you will be able to promote your products as well as sell them directly to consumers who will just have to click on the product and pay online. It is also a great way to do your promotional campaign by creating impactful and creative ads.

  • How does it work?

After creating your official RED store, you’ll be able to display your products like on any other platform. When clicking on your store, users will see your history of products as well as reviews about your products (including pictures and videos). As an e-commerce website, be sure to write a clear description of your product (in simplified Mandarin Chinese). Then, users will just have to click on the product they want to buy to be redirected to the purchasing page. Then they will receive the products a few hours or days later thanks to REDelivery, Xiaohongshu’s own delivery system.

  • ‘Fulishe’ E-commerce
Xiaohongshu’s Results when looking for ‘口红’ (Lipstick)

Fulishe (福利社) is Xiaohongshu’s self-operated e-commerce platform which integrates merchandising, warehousing, and customer service functions to provide users with a seamless e-commerce experience.

Shopping notes on the little red book e-commerce Platform

  • What are the shopping notes?
Users’ Shopping notes about Lipsticks
  • Xiaohongxin: The new product rating system

Launched in May 2019 after some controversies about fake accounts, Xiaohongxin is a new rating system based on users’ opinions about the quality of content. Those users act like moderators and are called ‘Xiaohongshu Publisher’ (小红书出品人) that are responsible for maintaining transparency when it comes to the products’ reviews. Those ‘moderators’ are selected according to some requirements (for example they will need to prove that they have purchased the product).

Is Xiaohongshu suitable for your brand?

As one of the most popular and appreciated apps for young Chinese women, it is highly recommended for small and medium-sized brands to register on Xiaohongshu. Instead of diving directly into e-commerce giants platforms such as Tmall and JD.com, Little Red Book seems to be the perfect compromise between developing your brand’s awareness as well as reaching thousands of potential consumers among other brands. By using Xiaohongshu, you’ll be able to benefit from a wonderful network of KOLs and celebrities at a lower cost than other social media. Check it yourself by downloading the App from Ios app store.

Contact us to get started on Little Red Book

We know how difficult it can be for a foreign brand to enter the Chinese market: new rules, different tastes, a different audience… and tough competition! As an international Digital Marketing Agency, our experts know exactly all the trends on Chinese social media, both in terms of communication and marketing.

According to your guidelines and objective, we are able to create relevant content in order to attract Chinese consumers’ attention, so you can become a buzz. Each expert on our team will be able to provide you with different services, so as to handle and keep properly your brand identity.

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