Little Red Book digital marketing guide

8 Best Xiaohongshu Marketing Strategies for Foreign Brands

Last Updated on February 4, 2024

In an era where user-generated content reigns supreme, social media platforms like Xiaohongshu open doors for foreign brands to connect with Chinese consumers. With the power of word-of-mouth marketing, genuine product reviews posted on this online shopping app can boost your marketing efforts and generate a positive brand image.

In this post, we’ll offer valuable insights about the app and share a few Xiaohongshu marketing tips to help you dominate the lucrative Chinese market.


What is Xiaohongshu Used For?

Xiaohongshu was initially released as a social media platform enabling users to engage with other accounts, access content creation tools, and participate in a vibrant community through product recommendations or honest reviews.

In late 2014, the popular RED app started introducing its e-commerce features, helping Chinese consumers and buyers discover foreign brands. Today, this lifestyle-focused social commerce platform emerges as not only a source of beauty and fashion tips but also an all-in-one marketplace for high-quality products.


Little Red Book China introduction


This innovative platform showcases similarities to Western social apps like Instagram and Pinterest, with a seamless shopping experience resembling Amazon.

Most Xiaohongshu users use the app to post and browse content related to various topics such as fashion, beauty, food, and travel. As a result, content from these topics can heavily impact a brand’s image or a product’s demand.

As an e-commerce platform, international brands can create virtual storefronts on the app to have a closed shopping cycle among their target audience. Not only will it increase brand visibility, but it also means that potential consumers don’t need to be redirected to external websites just to purchase your products.


Who is Xiaohongshu’s target audience?

The dominating age group of Xiaohongshu users is 18 to 35 years old, making it the perfect marketing channel for foreign brands seeking younger audiences. Out of its 200 million monthly active users recorded in 2023, 70% fall under the female category.

You may not know, but female Chinese consumers are known for their high spending power. They also hold 70% of household purchasing decisions in China, making them among the most important user demographics to resonate with if you want to boost brand recognition locally.

Xiaohongshu users are also predominantly from high-tier cities in Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing, Zhejiang, and Jiangsu. And considering that its user base is filled with young Chinese consumers, marketers can expect a tech-savvy audience seeking high-quality and authentic products.


Xiaohongshu user base key figures


This social e-commerce platform has a relatively high KOL penetration rate. So, it’s not a surprise that most users of the app are influenced by recommendations from Key Opinion Leaders.

On top of KOL marketing endorsements, Chinese consumers in Little Red Book are more enticed by brands with enough social proof posted in the app. It includes customer testimonials, ratings, and feedback about the unique selling points of your products.


How is Xiaohongshu different from other social media platforms?

Xiaohongshu stands out in China’s crowded digital landscape due to its unique combination of social networking and e-commerce features. Beyond that, its core lies in community-driven engagement, so any brand entering through this channel must have an excellent content marketing strategy.

Instead of boosting official accounts with massive following bases, the platform’s algorithm promotes content based on quality and user engagement. Through this, new and smaller businesses establishing a presence in the app have a fair chance for brand exposure.


Xiaohongshu user-generated content

Example of user-generated content


The dominance of user-generated content on this social media app encourages users to share authentic, relatable lifestyle experiences. It means that Chinese consumers in this app are not only interested in product listings or advertisements but also seek relevant content on your brand’s official account.

Unlike other e-commerce and social media channels in China, most of Xiaohongshu’s content and products fall under categories like lifestyle, beauty, luxury, and fashion. Because of this, posts about shopping tips, makeup reviews, skincare routines, and fashion trends are particularly popular in the app.

As a cross-border e-commerce marketplace, the app also serves as a gateway for foreign companies to reach Chinese consumers. In fact, major global brands like Louis Vuitton and Lancôme are already utilizing this platform as part of their campaign objectives in China.


Xiaohongshu Marketing Guide: 8 Strategies For Foreign Brands

●     Create Engaging Content

Authenticity is a must if you want to achieve success in the Little Red Book app. With more than 140,000 brands registered on the platform, amplifying your brand’s presence with an effective content marketing strategy becomes more crucial.

Xiaohongshu’s marketing channel prides itself on being a community-driven platform. Given its high engagement rate among social media users, it takes more than humor and entertainment to create viral content.


Engaging contents on Xiaohongshu


Your promotional campaign must be accompanied by storytelling elements that encourage users to resonate with your brand. Besides your product’s unique features, your content must offer value to your target audience.

Since Xiaohongshu is a blend of e-commerce and social media platforms, marketers can highlight their offerings through different mediums. It can be by posting tutorials and tips, adding relevant keywords to product descriptions, or opening an e-store within the app.

Crafting engaging stories around your brand can build credibility and authenticity for your products. Remember, Chinese consumers are savvy shoppers and wary of low-quality goods. Because of this, they tend to research extensively before making any online purchases.


●     Brand Localization & Cultural Resonance

Translating your brand content is not enough to generate traction in the Chinese market. If you want to be a household name in China, localization is the key.

You may not know, but around 56% of brands registered in this social e-commerce app are domestic players. With so many local competitors, foreign marketers must ensure that their Xiaohongshu marketing strategy aligns with China’s cultural values and beliefs. If not, they’ll risk being overshadowed by domestic businesses.

This strategy involves tweaking your brand story or marketing messages to resonate more deeply with the Chinese market. Apart from visuals, you can also participate in and create content around local events, festivals, and trends.


Lancôme Chinese New Year 2024 marketing campaign

Lancôme Chinese New Year 2024 marketing campaign


Nevertheless, translating your social media content into simplified Chinese is still crucial to building an authentic connection with your potential customers. You must ensure all your communication mediums reflect local nuances, slang, and expressions.

We highly discourage relying on free online translators as these tools are often inaccurate and prone to mistakes. Rather than risking your brand’s image, it’s better to work with professional translators proficient in both Chinese and English to avoid problems in your promotional campaigns in the long run.


●     Optimization of Xiaohongshu Search Engine

Social search is an emerging trend in many Chinese social media platforms. These days, local consumers often skip the part where they’re supposed to enter queries on local search engines and proceed to research the products they want on the app’s built-in search function.

The platform’s algorithm is mainly influenced by what most users search and engage with. So, for a foreign brand to get traction in the app, your content must include relevant keywords trending within the Xiaohongshu community.

Just like how you optimize for any search engine, these industry-specific keywords should be visible on your content’s captions, product titles, or hashtags.


Xiaohongshu search function


Conducting thorough keyword research will help you identify the search volume and popularity of specific terms in your niche. Once you have the list of these words, you can incorporate them into your digital marketing strategy.

With the right keywords in your content, potential consumers can find your official brand account or product listings faster. It can also lead you to reach new audiences within your target industry.


●     Collaborate with Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) & Key Opinion Consumers (KOCs)

Working with influencers is inevitable when building a Xiaohongshu marketing plan. Whether for a product launch, an event, a live stream, or a general endorsement, key opinion leaders are still the face of credibility in China’s social media and e-commerce sphere.

Young consumers are particularly fond of getting shopping tips and recommendations from top-tier influencers. However, in the past few years, key opinion consumers (KOCs) are gaining more attention in the market.

While KOLs might have hundreds of thousands of followers, KOCs have the charm of authentic product enthusiasts. Nowadays, consumers view them as a more reliable source of genuine reviews on social media platforms like Xiaohongshu.


Xiaohongshu KOLs collaborations


Considering how Xiaohongshu encourages user-generated content, selecting KOCs as your brand ambassadors can give a new brand the boost it needs to go viral on the platform.

Finding an influencer to collaborate with in the RED app is less complex than other e-commerce channels. It has a cooperation service platform called Pugongying, where brands can find KOLs and their payment rates.

Based on Xiaohongshu’s marketing guidelines, all influencer collaborations must undergo this built-in system. While it’s possible to work with a KOL externally to skip the platform commission, it’s not recommended as it can pose a risk to your brand as well.


●     Launch a Brand Promotion Through Ads

While most of the Xiaohongshu community thrives in user-generated content, this social media platform offers several ad formats to increase sales conversion and amplify your brand presence.

However, before you integrate ads into your Xiaohongshu marketing campaigns, it’s important to balance your efforts between paid and organic reach.

As we already discussed, this app thrives in user-generated content. Utilizing ads can act as an aiding tool to help boost these posts and reach your intended audience. Your advertising options range from paid collaborations with KOLs to in-feed and native ads.


Little Red Book different ads' formats


Xiaohongshu also has an excellent social search feature, making search ads an enticing feature to consider. Through this advertising option, your landing page will appear in Little Red Book’s brand zone.

Choosing this format ensures your target audience sees your product or content on the top of the search results page when searching for industry-specific keywords.


●     Open a Virtual Brand Store Using Your RED Official Account

With an official brand account, foreign marketers can establish a solid presence in the RED app through an e-commerce store.

The platform supports cross-border trade, simplifying international business logistics and customs procedures. It means you can sell in this app and engage with your target market without needing a physical presence in China.


Xiaohongshu brands stores


To open a Xiaohongshu e-commerce store, you must download the app and sign up for an official account. On the application page, you’ll be asked to submit company documents like business registration, certificate of incorporation, and customs registration form.

You must also provide supporting documents, including company information (a commitment letter for foreign businesses), logistics, brand information, and trademark authorization.

When you register, choose to create an Enterprise Account instead of a regular one. This categorization will give you an official brand presence.

The approval for your brand’s account could take 1 to 5 working days. After that, you’ll be required to pay a 20,000 RMB deposit to open a virtual storefront.

Other requirements needed for this process are a company email, company information and registration details, financial information, and legal information about eligibility to sell branded products.


●     Utilize Xiaohongshu’s Live-streaming Content Features

In China’s live-streaming market, Xiaohongshu emerges as a rising contender. Although Taobao Live and Douyin still dominate the industry, the platform is showing promising progress, with over 90% of its revenue coming from live commerce sales.

In 2021, Little Red Book recorded a higher average order size than Douyin’s live-streaming channels. On top of that, the real-time content for the Spring Festival in the same year gained an average daily click-through rate of 17.53%.


Xiaohongshu livestreaming


The platform’s live-streaming channels reached impressive sales of 198 million RMB during that major Chinese festival. This upward trend in terms of revenue proves how effective this medium is when it comes to promoting your brand on the platform.

Thanks to the prevalence of real-time content on the app, Little Red Book’s consumption trends are also changing. Besides products related to beauty and fashion, these live broadcasts are also seeing an increasing demand for food, baby, maternal, and other goods.

You’ll also notice that the products sold in Xiaohongshu’s live-stream channels are relatively lower in price than in other platforms. However, when it comes to cosmetics and skincare products, the app’s user base shows more willingness to pay more for premium, high-quality goods.


●     Participate in E-Commerce Shopping Festivals

As an e-commerce platform, Little Red Book naturally leverages major shopping festivals in the Chinese market. They also commemorate domestic holidays like Chinese New Year and National Day by featuring event-related products and launching a sale to attract more consumers.

Besides these common festivals, Women’s Day is a major event on the platform. With a predominantly female user base, the app eventually becomes a go-to source for gifts related to this celebration.


Xiaohongshu E-Commerce Shopping Festivals


Another unique event in the app that foreign brands can utilize is the RED Friday sales. It’s similar to the Western Black Friday shopping event, which often happens on the 4th Friday of November. It lasts until the first weeks of December.

Participating in these shopping festivals can benefit your brand as long as you execute the right marketing strategy. The chances of generating revenue are also high during these events because it’s when consumer spending is at its peak.


Quick Q&A

Why is Xiaohongshu so popular?

The popularity of Xiaohongshu stems from the fact that it caters to a young, urban demographic interested in lifestyle, beauty, and quality products. With its user-generated content model, many online shoppers tend to rely on its reviews and recommendations before making a purchasing decision.

What is the best time to post in Xiaohongshu?

The optimal time to post on Xiaohongshu can vary depending on the target audience. However, based on general statistics, posting between 7 AM and 9 AM in the morning is highly effective as these are the times locals prepare to go to work.

Posting content during lunch hours, between 12 NN and 2 PM, also resulted in high activity peaks. During night hours, it’s best to keep your content activities from 9 PM to 12 MN.

While evenings are universally active, specific product categories may see higher engagement in the afternoon. Brands should thoroughly analyze their audience’s online habits within Xiaohongshu to tailor their posting schedule for maximum impact.


Your Trusted Xiaohongshu Marketing Partner in the Chinese Market!

Your Xiaohongshu marketing campaigns can open many business opportunities for your brand. Some may only see it as another social media channel, but the reality is it’s an emerging platform capable of creating a buzz for your products.

At Sekkei Digital Group, we understand the subtleties inherent to the Chinese market – including consumer behaviors and the ever-evolving trends that shape it. With our extensive expertise in this niche, we offer you the avenue to unlock your brand’s potential and secure a formidable position as a leading entity in the industry.


Sekkei Digital Group Services


Whether it’s crafting compelling advertising campaigns, utilizing social platforms, or collaborating with relevant KOLs, we have all the digital solutions you need. Contact us today, and let us help you navigate the challenges of Little Red Book’s business scene.


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