The NBH Guide: Little Red Book – The social fusion app where the UGC community meets ecommerce
Little Red Book (LRB), also known as Xiaohongshu 小红书 and RED is China’s largest social shopping platform. It is China’s go-to platform to share product reviews, beauty tips, daily outfits, overall lifestyle photos, etc. LRB is the Chinese equivalent of Instagram and Pinterest together, it is one of the hottest social media platforms in China, an important platform for B2C brands to be present.
The story behind Little Red Book
The platform is based in Shanghai and was originally developed in 2013. The founders Miranda Qu and Charlwin Mao’s goal was to provide a user-generated content (UGC) platform for consumers to share and review products and shopping experiences, discover new products, and exchange style tips. In 2014 the platform began to focus on connecting Chinese consumers with retailers and making it possible to link posts with brand official stores. The launch of its cross-border e-commerce platform RED Store in 2014 opened up the possibility for Chinese customers to buy international brands directly through the app.
Today Little Red Book is one of the fastest-growing social e-commerce platforms on the market and has formed strategic partnerships with brands like Lancôme and Swiss.
In 2020, almost 100,000 new products were added to the app every day with a total number of over 780 million exclusive products.
The company is today valued at over 6 billion US dollars.
What is it?
According to its official website, Little Red Book (Xiaohongshu) is a lifestyle sharing platform.
Its mission is to “inspire lives”. They do this by being a platform that connects people to a range of diverse lifestyle content.
Some might call it a pure e-commerce site but a better description is a search engine. A search engine to easily make a shopping decision or get inspiration.
Users visually showcase things from their everyday life, such as:
- Makeup- beauty tips
- Travel experience
- Outfit of the day
- Fitness and workout tips
Everything is visually exposed, with a variety of formats, including photos, videos, text, and live streaming.
LRB is user-based and content-driven. The platform is reminiscent of Pinterest in the look of the feed, there are features such as bookmark your favorites, and create your own boards of inspiration. Like Instagram, there are stories and you have the function of sending private messages. Users can also interact via “likes”, cute emojis, comments and follow specific users or brands.
To target content to individual users, Xiaohongshu uses a recommendation algorithm based on the user’s search history and browsing habits.
So, who is the typical profile user of Little Red Book?
The latest official statistics from Little Red Book show that the platform has about 300 million registered users, and 100 million monthly active users.
The typical user profile on Little Red Book is a young female shopper living in top-tier cities, 56% of its users live in first- and second-tier cities.
The platform is mostly targeted by females, counting for +85% of its users. And the platform is most popular among the younger generations, such as Gen Z:s and late millennials.
The company has been clear that its next step is to engage and attract male users to the platform. In order to do so, investments have been done in articles and commerce on training and grooming products.
The importants of KOL:s on Little Red Book
KOL:s are extremely important for branding on the Chinese market. And since Xiaohongshu is so much driven by reviews, they might have a greater impact here than on any other platform in China. People with good taste and the ability to communicate their purchases can quickly grow into micro-influencers.
China’s new generation, led by Genzs, tends to look for authenticity in a different way than before. They are focused on sustainability, health, balance, and group affiliation. Maybe that’s why Xiaohongshu has become so big in this age group, simply because they are more compatible with that customer group.
The creative RED
The success behind Little Red Book a.ka. RED is a user-driven community where people share comments and give reviews of their shopping and life experiences. The unique design creates a user experience that is more authentic and trusted than other platforms.
One problem that Little Red Book originally had was getting users to go from seeking inspiration and window shopping to actually making active purchases. To deal with this, the company has, among other things set rules for how products may be linked.
In 2020, 8% of the users reading a review on Little Red Book makes an order, this can be compared to Tmall (China’s largest marketplace for brand good) where only 2.6% do the same and go through with a purchase.
RED also has a high level of trust among users as they work directly with the brands’ own online stores. Brands also have the opportunity to set up their own digital shop within the app. Little Red Book then offers companies full logistics service, customer service, and full access to data insights.
LRB has also released its own brand REDesign and opened a physical flagship store in Shanghai. With this, they hope to cross the line between e-commerce and online stores.
Little Red Book is definitely something different from what we have seen in the “western” social media landscape. Instagram and Pinterest together as one, can it be better?
Overall the search function, the recommendation algorithm, and the user-driven content create a strong sense of credibility and a sense of belonging to a specific community or subculture, a lifestyle sharing platform.
With a large and strong user base, Little Red Book is definitely a platform to keep in mind if you want to introduce or expand your brand on the Chinese market.