Today, Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) is one of China's most distinctive e-commerce platforms, connecting Chinese consumers interested in beauty products with sellers and combining social networking and e-commerce services with closed shopping cycle and a wide range of marketing tools.
The e-commerce service of Little Red Book is particularly popular among female consumers interested in cosmetics, clothing, jewelry and other product categories, making it attractive for both niche Chinese and foreign brands. In this article, we will discuss the features of Xiaohongshu and how international brands can use the LRB e-commerce platform for marketing and selling on the Chinese market.
Main features of Xiaohongshu: how does it compare to other e-commerce platforms in China?
What do you need to register and how much does It cost to sell on the site?
Stores and product pages
Pros and Cons
There are about 300 million Chinese people on Xiaohongshu, but it only has a 5.3% share of Chinese internet users and a MAU of 53.6 million compared to e-commerce giants like Tmall and Taobao. However, it is still worth the attention of niche brands planning to sell products in China, including foreign products.
According to KAWO market survey, in 2022, 90% of users of this Chinese social media were female, while other users were male. Besides, it is also one of the hottest social media platforms for the younger generation, especially Gen Z: 47% of users are aged 18-24, and 37% are Chinese aged 25-34. In contrast to some other social media platforms in China, Little Red Book's audience is predominantly middle-class with higher incomes, as 56% of users live in Tier 1 cities.
The cost to join Little Red Book and start selling for international brands is lower compared to other major Chinese marketplaces, therefore it is a great platform for medium and small niche brands who want to sell their products in China. In addition, Little Red Book with a large number of social media influencers on the platform is often viewed by Chinese consumers not only as another e-commerce platform, but also as a professional product review platform which can be used to evaluate and differentiate qualified brands and their products before making a purchase.
Furthermore, the marketplace is accessible to international companies and there are many successful case studies of niche international brands successfully selling foreign products in China. For example, we can note Dior, Louis Vuitton and other brands such as Réalisation Par, Skinceuticals, Ganni, each of them uses its own brand's official account on LRB to attract Chinese consumers.
Unlike some other e-commerce platforms, Little Red Book combines the features of a social platform and a shopping platform. Today, it is a Chinese social media where marketing and sales are primarily based on attracting organic traffic. Little Red Book is rightly called the Chinese Instagram, as this platform is primarily a social media that allows Chinese customers to interact with each other and share opinions about various products and services in the form of posts, reviews, and comments.
Therefore, Little Red Book is a place where your foreign brand can find a huge number of key opinion leaders (KOLs) and key opinion consumers (KOCs), thanks to which companies can actively promote their products on the platform and increase sales. It is possible to connect with KOLs by searching content tags.
Initially launched in 2013, new Chinese social media was focused on providing overseas shopping information to Chinese consumers who were planning to travel outside of China. However, the social media began to develop its own e-commerce platform and attract a wider audience and develop topics in other segments, such as clothing and fashion, cosmetics, fitness products, baby food, and more.
The requirements for registering a brand account for Chinese sellers on this marketplace are an order of magnitude lower than those of competitors, as are the minimum deposits for all types of goods. For example, the deposit for a Chinese company is 20,000 yuan, and the percentage of each sale is determined at the contract signing stage. In this case, the required documents for registration are: a Chinese business license, representatives' passports or driver's licenses, a statement from a Chinese bank account, a trademark, and a Chinese phone number.
For foreign companies, the requirements for registering a brand account are also lower than those of giants like Tmall and JD. The deposit for a foreign company is $3500. The percentage for each sale is also determined at the time of signing the contract, just like a Chinese legal entity.
For foreign sellers, there is also a fee for using the services of an intermediary company, which is determined at the stage of signing the contract. When registering an official account on Little Red Book, you will need the participation of a nominal Chinese company, which is provided directly by the marketplace for most categories of goods. You will also need documents such as a business license, passport or driver's license, bank statement, trademark and Chinese phone number.
It should be noted separately that there are certain requirements for using the advertising tools available on Little Red Book. Xiaohongshu requirements for access to advertising tools are as follows: you need to provide a customs declaration for one of the products, a certificate of origin, and Little Red Book may request additional documents from foreign sellers. The minimum deposit is 2,000 yuan, and the time to open an advertising account is 3 to 5 days.
There are two main types of logistics available on Little Red Book: Xiaohongshu’s storage and delivery of goods from the platform's warehouse, and storage and delivery from the seller's warehouse. Little Red Book allows sellers to offer logistics and customer service for an additional fee. The platform has developed a logistics network consisting of 7 international distribution centers for cross border trade, 10 transportation centers and 9 import order processing centers.
LRB also supports other forms of cooperation, such as direct shipping from the exporting country, Chinese courier and logistics operators, and Chinese post.
This marketplace has a desktop version, but it is only used by sellers. For buyers, there is a mobile application that can be downloaded from the Apple or Android stores, as well as Chinese app stores. The mobile version of the marketplace is organized in much the same way as its main competitors, with the exception of Little Red Book's social media feed.
When you open the Little Red Book app, you are taken to this general feed, just like on Instagram. On the left side of the app is the main page, followed by the marketplace section. In the middle is a button to add a post, and on the right is a section for messages and your personal account.
Initially, LRB did not separate the platform into Chinese and foreign sellers. As a result, you will see both local and foreign goods in the search results. As with other Chinese marketplaces, Little Red Book requires that product listings be as detailed as possible, as this has a direct impact on sales.
In addition, this marketplace also requires you to create a landing page to launch sales, which follows the photo and basic information about the product, which is generally no different from other Chinese marketplaces.
At the same time, unlike other platforms, Little Red Book offers a limited number of store types. For this reason, only two types of stores are available on the platform - a flagship store for a Chinese company and a flagship store for a foreign company.
The process of registering an official account and setting up an e-commerce store and filling out product listings is generally similar to other Chinese e-commerce platforms.
To apply for opening an online store on Little Red Book, you need to go to the business registration site and click on the red register button. You will then be asked to enter your email address to which you will receive a password for your personal account.
Next, log in to your email, copy the password, go to the website, enter your email, and paste the password for your account. This will log you into your Little Red Book personal account.
In the personal account, you will be presented with a description of the registration process. At the same time, registering with Little Red Book will take some time, as the process can be roughly divided into five main stages, during which you will sequentially fill in information about your company, representative, submit accompanying documents, etc.
If you have completed all the main registration stages and Little Red Book has successfully verified the documents, and there are no questions, you will automatically move on to the fifth stage: your shop is open and you can now go to the back office and configure it.
On the left side of the back office is the main menu, which is generally similar to the back office of a marketplace like Pinduoduo. The first section is order management, followed by sections for customer service, product management, statistics, promotions and discounts.
After that, there is information about customers, as well as the management of the store display, the management of the online store itself, and customer service.
Finally, there are sections such as Finance, Development Center, Marketing Tools, and Logistics.
Little Red Book, like other Chinese digital platforms, has marketing tools available. They can be found in the back office in the promotion section, where you can set up discounts, bonuses for participating in LRB promotions, as well as package offers for potential buyers.
In addition, there is also a section in the back office for setting up advertising, which consists of streams, a section with the results of the advertising campaign, and scheduled streams.
The requirements for access to the advertising tools are as follows: you will need to provide a customs declaration for one of your products, a certificate of origin, and some additional documents that Little Red Book may request from foreign sellers as needed. The time to open an advertising account is 3-5 days, and the minimum deposit to start advertising campaigns is 2,000 yuan. Let's now look at the main forms of marketing activities on Little Red Book where you can implement both traditional marketing tactics and specific marketing tools based on improving shopping experiences of Chinese users.
Like some other apps in China the platform has a strong focus on promotions and discounts for active Chinese shoppers, providing the opportunity to participate in both organizing internal promotions and creating their own.
First of all, Little Red Book has internal promotions. For example, the platform occasionally holds promotions for the sale of surprise boxes. The essence of the promotion is as follows: after the user performs a certain number of interactive actions on the site, such as a certain number of views or likes, the most active users can receive a surprise coupon.
Another example is the platform's thematic promotions. For example, on Xiaohongshu, users can participate in themed promotions such as Black Friday or 11.11 - the biggest sale in China, during which a large number of promotions and contests are traditionally held in China to attract buyers' attention to their products.
Seller promotions and discounts
In addition, on Little Red Book, you can give coupons for a discount on certain groups of products, as well as in the framework of package offers. In the first case, for example, if a user buys 2 of your lipsticks instead of one, then in this case he will receive a discount of 10 yuan on the purchase. Another situation is to offer the customer to buy not only lipstick, but also makeup tools and foundation, and offer a 30% discount on the whole set.
An important marketing tool in Little Red Book is Messages. Messages are used to send short announcements to customers with promotions and offers from your store. This method allows you to conveniently inform platform users about your product news.
The most commonly used format for advertising has become news announcements. The news feed is the place where the user spends a lot of time. Therefore, this option is an effective tool in the marketing model of an advertising campaign.
Specialties of content advertising on Little Red Book
Activity. It is characterized by a high level of user traffic. Thanks to the good activity of subscribers, there is a guarantee that the ads placed on the site will be viewed repeatedly. For this reason, the likelihood of purchasing the product presented in the advertisement increases significantly.
High level of naturalness. This indicator has a direct impact on conversion. The application contains native advertising, and the content changes according to the behavioral patterns of Chinese subscribers as they study the news feed pages.
Precise targeting. The developers of Xiaohongshu have provided a very high quality targeting algorithm that takes into account the most important factors to deliver ads only to users who are really interested in this information.
Pop-ups on opening an application
This type of on-site advertising is suitable for the quality communication of historically important facts related to the brand. It raises awareness of the launch of a particular product, often is used to promote a unique event related to a product manufacturer.
This type of advertising sometimes occupies the entire screen or a specific area. It all depends on:
the marketing objectives;
the specific preferences of the advertiser;
Some ads are shown several times a day. Images may be static or dynamic.
“Brand Zone" format
Many users on the site are looking for specific brands. Thanks to the improvement of the service, major players have appeared in the Chinese market. According to statistics, 50 million searches are for brands and 30 million are for products.
The traffic generation is visible on the first page after entering a keyword in the search engine bar. There is also an advertising module that redirects the user to the page of the company offering the products.
Today, TV advertisements rarely influence Chinese customers, and it will not significantly help a brand who sells international products in China and wants to promote them better. Key Opinion Leaders are one of the most popular ways to advertise on Little Red Book. Xiaohongshu attract KOLs who are available on different topics and at different costs, depending on the size and engagement of their audience.
Interacting with key opinion leaders involves the opinion leader with whom you do advertising integration on Little Red Book, write posts, write reviews, or conduct streams where they discuss the features of your product.
Using streams is a popular way to work with KOLs in China. Therefore, in 2020, the option of conducting streams appeared on Little Red Book. The feature of the LRB streaming platform is that the marketplace has the ability to negotiate directly with streamers, study their statistics and control integration. This option, for example, was used by the Louis Vuitton brand launched a series of popular streams to increase sales.
The streaming platform on Little Red Book looks like this: streamers are listed on the left panel, followed by the number of subscribers, cost for different collaboration models, engagement, and many other indicators.
To use SEO to promote a brand on Xiaohongshu, businesses should focus on optimizing their account and developing relevant content for search engine algorithms. This includes incorporating relevant keywords in the account name, bio, and content, as well as creating visually high-quality content.
Businesses can also leverage the Xiaohongshu's algorithm by consistently posting and engaging with their audience, as this will improve their visibility and ranking on the platform. Collaborating with key opinion leaders and running promotions or giveaways can also help increase brand visibility and engagement on Xiaohongshu.
It should be noted that there are several analytical tools available for product analysis on Little Red Book:
千瓜 (qiangua) - allows you to analyze different product categories, demand, sales volume and many other important indicators for sales launch
搜秀 (souxiu) - functionality is essentially similar to the solutions offered on 千瓜
红商眼 (hongshangyan) - provides various reports about products on the marketplace
Lower cost of entering the marketplace and organizing promotion compared to competitors in e-commerce segment.
Simplified working conditions: unlike competitors, there are fewer requirements to set up a store, no need to open a legal entity in China and build a Chinese team, and a faster time to the Chinese market.
A transparent registration process on the platform and integration with a social network is a major advantage, allowing for more effective promotion through user-generated content and KOLs.
Specializing in certain niches (such as cosmetics, clothing, travel, etc.) allows niche brands to attract the most active consumers.
Logistical solutions. Little Red Book does not currently offer comprehensive logistics solutions for foreign sellers and cross border trade. The marketplace can only provide warehousing services in Hong Kong and delivery from the warehouse to the end customer. Cross border logistics services with the ability to receive goods outside of China with subsequent transportation and placement in the marketplace's warehouse in China (as Tmall Global does through its operator Cainiao) are not yet available.
Xiaohongshu is a fairly niche network, specializing in certain product categories mentioned above. Given that the platform's MAU lags significantly behind leading Chinese brand marketplaces such as Tmall and JD, the likelihood of success in selling products in non-typical categories for Little Red Book may be lower.
Xiaohongshu is a social media and e-commerce platform with over 300 million registered users, making it an attractive option for businesses looking to expand in China. It promotes high-quality user-generated content and influencer marketing, and enables direct purchases through the Little Red Book app.
Xiaohongshu's target audience is primarily Chinese millennials and Gen Z Chinese consumers interested in lifestyle images, fashion, beauty, and travel content. Over 70% of the platform's users are Chinese women, making it an attractive site for businesses looking to target female consumers.
Xiaohongshu features both Chinese and western celebrities, with some of the notable Chinese names being Fan Bingbing, Angelababy, Li Xian, and Liu Wen. Besides, there are examples of western celebrities on Little Red Book western celebrities, for instance, Kim Kardashian is a popular key opinion leader on the site.
These celebrities use the platform to share their personal experiences, recommend products, and connect with fans. Thus, Little Red Book can be described as a celebrity approved distributor that successfully uses celebrity endorsements and word-of-mouth marketing to promote itself and help businesses do the same. However, the majority of the platform's content is still created by Chinese users and influencers.
Yes, Xiaohongshu has its own mobile app which is available for download on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app allows Chinese users to create and share content, discover and purchase products, and connect with other users and influencers on the platform.
The Xiaohongshu mobile app is much more popular than the desktop version. The vast majority of Xiaohongshu's users access the platform through the mobile app, which is designed to be more user-friendly and convenient for mobile users.
Yes, there is an English version of the Little Red Book app, which is available for download on both the IOS App Store and Google Play Store. The app is accessible to users around the world and features content from both Chinese and international users, as well as product listings and shopping options for users outside of China.
However, there is no desktop site for the English version of the Little Red Book, which is only available in Mandarin Chinese. The platform is primarily designed as a mobile app, and the English version is only available through the mobile app.
Xiaohongshu's popularity can be attributed to its unique blend of social media and e-commerce, making it an attractive platform for both Chinese consumers and businesses. The platform allows users to share their experiences and recommendations on a range of topics, including beauty, fashion, and travel, while also providing a seamless shopping experience.
In contrast to some other e-commerce sites, Xiaohongshu effectively combines social network and marketplace formats, being a great e-commerce tool effectively connecting Chinese consumers with sellers. Today it is one of the most popular social media platforms enhancing users’ shopping experiences and supporting the promotion of both Chinese and foreign brands (especially developing in the beauty products segment). Attractive user generated content, influential KOLs, and other marketing tools increase sales conversion and make the marketplace more attractive to foreign companies from beauty industries.
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