Xiaohongshu Marketing Guide For Brands

Attracting every day thousands of foreign companies, the Chinese market is one of the most promising in the world, in terms of innovation and development. Conscious of China’s potential, many companies are expanding their activities in the Middle Kingdom, especially on e-commerce platforms. While most people would think of platforms such as Tmall and JD.com, not everyone knows Xiaohongshu. 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.

Little red book is must-have marketing platform in China

XiaoHongShu has successfully met the expectations of its users towards the platform by combining e-commerce and social features without sacrificing one of them making it one of the most used online shopping platforms in China. source

• 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 platforms. Over the years, it has grown to become China’s foremost shopping platform in terms of beauty, fashion and luxury products. In 2018,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.

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

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On Xiaohongshu, people are able to post and share product reviews, travel blogs and lifestyle stories via pictures and short-videos. Xiaohongshu is also running RED Mall, a platform on which Chinese consumers are able to purchase international products.

Xiaohongshu users

If you want to use Xiaohongshu for your business, it is important to know that unlike other social media, Xiaohongshu is especially popular among young people (Generation Z), as 70% of its users were born after the 1990s. Moreover, 80% of the users are young Chinese women that mostly rely on KOLs recommendations instead of just buying products from famous international brands. They 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 mid to high-end products, especially cosmetics. Thanks to Xiaohongshu, users are able to watch live-streaming videos while clicking on the links embedded in live to buy the products that are used by the KOL.

What has made the success of Xiaohongshu?

Chinese consumers are increasingly wedded to their smartphones, taking their cues from KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders, which are influencers). The fact that Xiaohongshu was able to combine all the most popular tools on social media and e-commerce was the key to their success. By allowing consumers to share their reviews on products, it has created a large community, which is useful for brands that are on this platform.

As a matter of fact, one important factor of Xiaohongshu’s success is its vicious circle. The more consumers are going to read other users’ reviews, the more they will want to buy the product to try it, sharing their own review after that to other potential consumers. Take note that in order to maintain effective and qualitative reviews, Xiaohongshu is using recommendation algorithms to encourage its users to interact with topics they are interested in.

China: Social ecommerce trend setter?

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. 

In terms of social media, there are also a lot of opportunities for foreign brands to expand their activities, promote their products, and even sell them through social media (such as Xiaohongshu).

Fan Bingbing on RED

As a matter of fact, Xiaohongshu is also one the most popular social media among Chinese celebrities. For example, the famous actress and singer Fan Bing Bing, also share her opinion on Xiaohongshu, promoting at the same time brands like Louis Vuitton, L’Oreal and Häagen-Dazs. From the moment when 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 Xiaohongshu for your marketing in China?

Xiaohongshu has become one of the best platforms for KOL 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 luxury brands to run innovative and successful marketing campaigns.

Shiseido’s Official account on Xiaohongshu

Many brands and retailers think that they should only sell their products on e-commerce platforms 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. Moreover, it is almost impossible for smaller brands to have access to Tmall for example. You also have to take into account that the Chinese society is in constant evolution, with sophisticated young Chinese consumers that are difficult to convince if they have never heard of your brand. That’s why Xiaohongshu seems to be standing out from the crowd.

Word-of-mouth on Xiaohongshu

As one of the most popular social media in China, Xiaohongshu is a wonderful tool when it comes to word-of-mouth. As you probably already know, word-of mouth is indeed the best way to convince Chinese consumers to buy your products or to download an app. Even Xiaohongshu’s success was possible thanks to word-of-mouth !

Even after major updates over the years, Xiaohongshu still kept its primary function: a committed community 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 engines, Xiaohongshu still manages to keep its dominant position on the Chinese market.

The advantage of Xiaohongshu in terms of ROI

If you are still hesitant about using Xiaohongshu 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 Xiaohongshu 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. 

Xiaohongshu: A Powerful Tool for your E-reputation

As one of the most popular platforms for products’ reviews, Xiaohongshu is a powerful tool for your e-reputation. If Chinese consumers leave a review after purchasing your products, it will generate much more visibility than just advertising your brand. Your consumers will drive your sales and that’s why you have to understand their needs in order for them to recommend your brand to their friends.


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

KOLs are really at the basis of Xiaohongshu’s success, to the point where Xiaohongshu decided to launch its platform “品牌合作人” on which companies are able to find their KOL for a 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 of Chinese consumers. We have collaborated with many KOLs over the years, and we are able to hire the best KOL to promote your brand. According to your needs and guidelines, we can create unique and efficient campaigns such as live streams, 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.

How can Beauty & Lifestyle brands take advantage of Xiaohongshu?

Xiaohongshu is an app full of opportunities for brands wanting to expand their activities in China as well as to raise their brand’s awareness. However Xiaohongshu 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

Having a verified account on Xiaohongshu is mandatory if you want to sell your products on the platform. Chinese consumers 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. Xiaohongshu is like other e-commerce platforms such as Tmall, JD.com, Taobao, WeChat, you will need to gain Chinese consumers’ trust. However, the particularity of Xiaohongshu is that individual vendors are not able to open their own stores. 

How to Register an Official Account on Xiaohongshu?

The first thing you’ll need in order to be able to sell your products on Xiaohongshu 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. 

Registering on Xiaohongshu can be quite complicated if you don’t understand Chinese, and as there’s a lot of paperwork to do (in Chinese of course). After registering, you will need to wait for approbation three days on average 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 giving you a few tips to enter the Chinese market without a hitch.

Advertising on Xiaohongshu

Before starting planning your advertising strategies, you have to know that unlike other e-commerce platforms, Xiaohongshu does not provide display ads 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.

As a matter of fact, Xiaohongshu’s main asset is to reflect the reality based on consumers’ clear and objective reviews. Thus, the rules are the same as other platforms, 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

On another hand, it is also possible to integrate ads that will appear in the news on the ‘Discovery’ and ‘Follow’ pages, or using 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 Xiaohongshu.

RED Stores

While most social media apps offer some kind of integration in terms of e-commerce, some of them have also built their own stores, such as Xiaohongshu. In 2014, following its growing success and popularity, Xiaohongshu launched its own cross-border e-commerce platform: ‘RED Store’. Thanks to that new functionality, Chinese consumers were able to purchase overseas products from international 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, 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 to 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 e-commerce platforms. When clicking on your store, users will see your history of products as well as reviews about your products (including pictures and videos). As any 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 a seamless e-commerce experience.

Shopping notes

  • 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 user’s opinion about the quality of contents. 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 app for young Chinese women, it is highly recommanded for small and medium size brands to register on Xiaohongshu. Instead to diving directly on e-commerce giants platforms such as Tmall and JD.com, Xiaohongshu seems to be the perfect compromise between developing your brand’s awareness as well as reaching thousands of potential consumers. 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.

Contact us to get started on Xiaohongshu

We know how difficult it can be for a foreign brand to enter the Chinese market: new rules, different taste, a different audience… and a 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 of our team will be able to provide you different services, so as to handle and keep properly your brand identity.

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