Why is Xiaohongshu Marketing Your Social Ecommerce Channel in 2021
18 Aug , 2021

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The Chinese market, being the most populated country with a sturdy economy and economic leadership, is always appealing for global brands to develop in. When it comes to ecommerce in China, many may think of Taobao or Tmall. Nowadays, there is one platform that savvy shoppers know to turn to: Xiaohongshu.

Xiaohongshu is more akin to a blend of Pinterest, Amazon and TripAdvisor, but is also completely unique. It gives marketers an incredible opportunity to target and connect with the Chinese audience, especially the female demographic. Accompanied with the confluence of KOL and livestream marketing in Xiaohongshu, brands from diverse industries, particularly fashion and beauty, travel, and food, are able to achieve optimal social ecommerce sales. By reading this article, you will have a deeper knowledge of how to use Xiaohongshu as your social ecommerce marketing channel, and tips to make your brand stand out from the crowd.

  1. What is Xiaohongshu?

  2. Why should brands promote with Xiaohongshu marketing?

  3.  Useful Xiaohongshu marketing tips that get you ecommerce sales

  4. Xiaohongshu ad formats for different marketing objectives

  5. Step-by-step guide to set up your ecommerce business in Xiaohongshu

1. What is Xiaohongshu?

Xiaohongshu, often known as Little Red book, is a Chinese social media platform that concentrates on a unique blend of trusted user-generated content, ecommerce, and online community-building. The platform features images, text, videos, and live streaming that, together, create content tailored towards user’s interested aspects, like beauty, fashion, food, travel, fitness etc.

As one of the fastest-growing platforms, Xiaohongshu has boasted over 100 million monthly active users, with over four-fifths of users as Millennials and Gen Z. The channel has evolved into China’s greatest content hub for consumer word-of-mouth and social ecommerce, targeting trend-conscious and affluent consumers.

2. Why should brands promote with Xiaohongshu marketing?

2.1 Hub of young, high-purchasing power demographic in Xiaohongshu

According to statistics, Xiaohongshu has approximately 300 million registered users, with the most active users being the post-90s and post-95s. Over 80% of users were under the age of 35, while over 90% of users are female. In particular, more than half of them are from the upper middle and middle classes.

With a youthful urban population that places a premium on quality and has significant purchasing power, Xiaohongshu serves as an effective platform for selling and advertising skincare, cosmetics, and fashion offerings. It gathers shrewd users who research and review products extensively on the app.

Perfect Diary, a cosmetic brand positioned at Gen Z young women, gained 2M+ followers on Xiaohongshu, with over 110K notes searching for the brand name. The brand has hopped to be a ‘shining star’ in the Chinese beauty market.

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Perfect Diary, targeting young women aged 18 to 25, utilized Xiaohongshu as its social ecommerce channel.

With such a robust and highly converting audience base, Xiaohongshu is certainly an ideal social ecommerce marketing platform for international brands to promote and advertise themselves, especially brands that target a young and sophisticated female demographic.

2.2 Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing on Xiaohongshu

Like you and I, consumers surf the Internet for information about their product preferences through various platforms or channels. With research showing that 92% of Chinese consumers buy products based on brand reputation and recommendations, word-of-mouth is indeed a great means to convert Chinese consumers.

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Word-of-mouth recommendation ranked the first on sources of new brand discovery among Chinese internet users.

Xiaohongshu offers a primary function of “shopping notes”, which are contributed by a committed community about their purchases. It directly connects shoppers to customer reviews at point of purchase and serves as a consumer choice portal worthy of brand attention. “Queen of sales” - FanBingbing once temporarily pulled down Xiaohongshu’s server owing to her published shopping note endorsing a beauty product. It brings massive attention and exposure, resulting in a huge viral effect.

The brand and product review exchange in Xiaohongshu is effective in creating favourable WOM marketing for brands and allow them to associate with consumers on the platform, and that’s what maintains Xiaohongshu’s dominance in the China market.

2.3 Direct linkage to the Xiaohongshu ecommerce store

If nothing prompts us to buy straight away, many of us may simply put the interested product we randomly encountered on social media in the back of our minds. Xiaohongshu closes the gap with its own cross-border ecommerce platform – RED store.

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Brands can create their own RED store on Xiaohongshu and link it to their brand account to sell their offerings. Like the Innisfree example above, under the ‘Goods’ tab, users can browse all the product listings available. By simply clicking on their interested products, they’ll be directed to a page where they can buy instantly. In addition, the shopping link of the related product will be included on the Note. Online traffic is efficiently converted into real-world transaction, increasing merchant’s ecommerce conversion rate.
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Content cycle of Xiaohongshu

Xiaohongshu reduces consumers’ search and time cost, and further stimulates the “Read-Like-Buy” cycle within the app. It also enhances the product’s authenticity, which alleviates a huge concern in China’s ecommerce industry, thus boost sales.

By serving as a first-party distributor, handling delivery and customer support, Xiaohongshu is able to ensure the quality of its merchandise. Qualified brands are also empowered to set up their own digital stores, with full logistic, customer services, and marketing support, including data insights and in-app advertisements, which elevates the marketing effort and improves business outcomes.

2.4 Thriving social ecommerce community in Xiaohongshu

Aside from creating unique content, users can also ‘save’, ‘like’ and ‘comment’ on Xiaohongshu posts, as well as ‘follow’ to subscribe to a specific user or brand. To emphasize, Xiaohongshu allows users to share posts externally via Weibo or WeChat, a feature that is uncommon in the Chinese digital market. This content shareability enables your content to appear across multiple platforms, maximizing exposure and awareness.

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Xiaohongshu uses a recommendation algorithm to produce a personalized homepage based on users' browsing and search history. It also offers an "Explore" page with regards to the user's aggregated data. This allows your brand’s related content or information to be presented to users who are likely to be interested in buying products from your brand, thereby increasing conversion and sales.

With these enticing features, Xiaohongshu has successfully built a tight bond among its like-minded users – ‘Little Sweet Potatoes’, who are being active users of this platform and consider themselves belonging to it. A sizable number of users use the app up to 7 times a day. If techniques used for Xiaohongshu marketing are accurate and well-managed, brand awareness and reputation can be quickly built and expanded here.

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3. 4 Useful Xiaohongshu marketing tips that get you ecommerce sales

3.1 Have your own Xiaohongshu official brand account and ecommerce store

Brands are encouraged to open a Xiaohongshu official brand account to enhance the users-brand experience and maximize Xiaohongshu marketing effect.

An official brand account comes differently from a regular user account. You’ll see a certification mark that confirms your account's validity and builds user trust. Multiple operation tools are also available to promptly respond to comments or inquires between followers and increase brand loyalty, which is inconceivable to do with merely a normal user account. Most importantly, once you’ve set up an official brand account, Xiaohongshu will generate a data insight report on your followers’ demographic and behavior pattern, allowing you to understand multidimensional data and empower content marketing. You’ll be able to establish relationships with customers by posting content, responding to customer enquiries, and initiating promotional campaigns.

Brands can create their own articles on new product launches, special offers, and testimonials. In the “@TA” area, you may also select which user-generated content to display. Monitoring performance like exposure rate and CTR is also possible with Xiaohongshu’s data analytics section. It is noteworthy that brands can sign up to participate in sales campaign, such as Xiaohongshu’s 6 June Anniversary, to boost sales on the platform. On 6 June 2017, over 100M products were sold on Xiaohongshu within two hours, propelling the app to rank the top of the Apple Store.

3.2 Engage KOLs for Xiaohongshu marketing

Undoubtedly, KOLs are increasingly becoming a focal point of ecommerce sales. Influencers are regarded as the expert in their fields, and are considered to be credible in light of the fact that they are known to their crowd. They are trusted by users and give brands the social proof. Consumers in China are 4X more likely than consumers in other nations to make a purchase based on social proof.

Xiaohongshu rolled out an influencer management system that ranks qualified KOLs into 5-6 levels based on the number of followers and certifications. Brands may collaborate with KOLs through the “brand partner platform”. KOLs on Xiaohongshu assist through content creation, product sharing, testimonials, or live streams, with proven maximized marketing result. In AsiaPac, we have our self-developed KOOLER AI, which leverages the 200K+ cross-platform database in China and Asia to match your brand with the most ideal KOL, so as to generate buzz as well as growing your brand awareness.

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Xiaohongshu launches a “brand partner platform” to connect brands with KOLs to arrange for sponsored content.

3.3 Choose the correct keyword for your Xiaohongshu marketing

Being algorithm-driven, Xiaohongshu’s content performance is tightly linked to search volume and post engagement, making keyword optimization in post titles essential. With the correct keyword, posts and articles can acquire more visibility on Xiaohongshu, increasing brand awareness.

Brands may use keyword research to find the most popular post titles and content. For instance, using tag functions helps you discover what your potential customers are talking about and which tags are frequently cited in posts or when displaying products. Trending search words and hot topics that surface on the search page can also be investigated to understand target’s interest and the wordings they’re searching for. Make use of long tail keywords as well. Type in your keyword in the search bar and see what additional related long tail keywords pop up. Incorporate those keywords in your post title and content.

Similar to search engines, Xiaohongshu’s trendy keywords change constantly, influenced by the quantity of search queries and the popularity of top-performing posts. Keyword research aids in the filtering of keywords by user intent. Content can be more specifically tailored to your target demographic, putting your brand or products on their radar.

3.4 Maximize your Xiaohongshu marketing effect by advertising

Of course, as a social media platform, content marketing is Xiaohongshu’s most valuable asset. Yet, allocating budget on Xiaohongshu advertising allows you to create synergetic marketing effect, doubling or even tripling exposure and conversions. However, do keep in mind that languages like “the best”, “the most”, “upscale” etc., in ad content is prohibited to mitigate the risk of misleading users. If you are overwhelmed by the marketing restrictions in China, reach out to our Chinese digital marketing experts and we’re always here to help.

4. Xiaohongshu’s ad formats for different marketing objectives

image.png  4.1 Drive conversions and leads with Xiaohongshu advertising

Brand Zone: Ads shown on the first search results page after users searched the keyword and appear as display ad, banner redirect, and tab with multiple page selection. With regards to user’s interested topic, ads are presented to them to encourage leads.

4.2 Raise brand awareness with Xiaohongshu advertising

Pop-up Ad: It pops up as a full screen ad design upon app-openings or integrated within the explore page feed to convey brand’s story or build awareness for product launching, which direct users to a dedicated landing page or a specific post.

4.3 Guarantee high exposure and ad delivery with Xiaohongshu advertising

News Feed Ad: It appears as a native content and display through the double-column feed on explore news page based on users’ browsing behavior. Also, Xiaohongshu’s algorithm ensures precise targeting from multi-dimension. Ads are presented to quality prospects 3 times daily to enhance conversion.

4.4 Facilitate purchase intention with Xiaohongshu advertising

Topic Ad: Through the exclusive brand topic community established by the brands owners, custom topic drives traffic from multi-channels and continuously maintain the exposure of the topic. Features of topic header, topic name, description, and videos allure users to understand the brand and product, and helps to direct users to landing pages, so as to ease purchase decision making.

Sticker Ad: Customizable sticker ad can show elements like products or ad copy, which is suitable for depicting brand’s tone, aids in increasing interaction with users. It also improves content’s quality, raising user’s buying intention. Users can put the sticker on their stories. The estimated impression is possibly to reach 12 million per week.


5. Step-by-step guide to set up your ecommerce business in Xiaohongshu

5.1 Register your brand on Xiaohongshu

You’ll first need to register on Xiaohongshu’s enterprise system using your company’s registered email and default password to become a merchant.

5.2 Fill in company information on Xiaohongshu

You’ll have to provide company information and qualifications, financial information and details regarding your e-store and related documents for proof. Be reminded to check the box for cross border e-commerce if your company is registered outside of China.

5.3 Xiaohongshu Qualification review

Xiaohongshu will process your application after you have submitted the information. The procedure could take as little as a week to complete if all of the information you supplied is validated and verified.

5.4 Sign the Xiaohongshu contract

Once your application is approved, you’ll receive a digital contract to sign via email, as well as a physical paper contract to return in the post. Read through these documents with a legal consultant, and sign them as soon as you can.

5.5 Complete your Xiaohongshu training

You’ll have to complete Xiaohongshu online training program to launch the e-store and acquire access to the enterprise management system. The program generally covers all aspects of selling on the platform.

Summary

As part of the ecommerce revolution for acquiring better products, Xiaohongshu’s unique stance as a trustworthy, influencer-approved platform of overseas products is a great channel for brands that seek to capitalize on the social ecommerce trend. Despite of Xiaohongshu’s outstanding marketing abilities, its commitment to genuine community connection and user integrity give grounds to an extensive audience base, leveraging your marketing effort. If you’re looking to seize the opportunity to enhance your marketing outcome through this Xiaohongshu, click here to contact us now!


About AsiaPac Net Media

With an extensive digital marketing experience of serving more than 2,500 clients across Asia in sectors such as ecommerce, finance, gaming, travel, retail, beauty, FMCG, education, health products etc. AsiaPac’s expert team is highly recognized for the excellence in providing performance-driven services to businesses across Asia, and global corporates targeting Asia markets. If you’d like to learn more about AsiaPac and the work we’ve done, visit our Cases. For more information on AsiaPac/ AdTech and our services, please contact us at info@asiapac.com.hk/ info@adtechinno.com.