Xiaohongshu is a Chinese social shopping platform with over 200 million monthly active users. Xiaohongshu, also known as RED, is a beauty, lifestyle, and fashion-focused app where people can share their own style and discover new products from around the world.
In this practical guide, we will explain how to advertise on Xiaohongshu (Xiaohongshu native ads) and what are the benefits of doing so for your business. We will cover topics such as: How much does it cost to advertise on Xiaohongshu? What kind of ad formats can you use? Should you target male or female users in China? And many more!
What are the characteristics of Xiaohongshu / Little Red Book?
Xiaohongshu is a fast-growing social e-commerce platform in China that combines e-commerce, user-generated content, and product reviews. It is popular among Chinese Generation Z consumers who value product reviews during the pre-purchasing phase. Companies are using it to capture this market.
Xiaohongshu successfully combines social eCommerce and paid ads
Xiahongshu stands out in the Chinese market as a unique social commerce platform that’s ideal for targeting young, female consumers in China.
This shopping and sharing platform is seen as a true word-of-mouth sharing community that offers many features and functions in one app.
The app works as a launching point to enter the online world to do browsing, searching, socializing, and shopping altogether. Therefore, young Chinese go to Xiaohongshu multiple times per day.
On this platform, Little Red Book users can share text, images, and short videos and make live streaming, touching on all areas of lifestyle, such as fashion, food, travel, cosmetics and beauty, fitness, apparel, and childcare products.
Xiaohongshu enables Chinese consumers to buy overseas products directly through its app, therefore has attracted global brands to build official accounts, launch KOL campaigns, and pay to advertise to sell cross-border products.
Xiaohongshu influencer marketing
Xiaohongshu KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) have a considerable influence, arguably even more than their Western counterparts. This is due to the platform’s emphasis on word-of-mouth marketing.
One example of a KOL (Key Opinion Leader) on Xiaohongshu (also known as RED) is Becky Li, who has over 10 million followers on the platform. She is known for her fashion and beauty content marketing and has collaborated with numerous brands to promote their products to her followers.
One of her recent collaborations was with the luxury brand Gucci, where she shared her experience of visiting the Gucci Garden in Florence, Italy, and showcased some of their products.
This shows how KOLs on Xiaohongshu can have a significant influence on consumer behavior and purchasing decisions.
How international brands can advertise on Xiaohongshu?
Xiaohongshu offers numerous paid and unpaid ways to promote brands and their products to Chinese consumers. These ways include opening an official brand account, partnering with KOLs – Key Opinion Leaders, and traditional paid ads. In this article we will analyze these types of advertising, focusing more on traditional paid advertising.
Opening an official account on Xiaohongshu
Having an official account is a guarantee of authenticity. The official account is a means by which to interact with one’s community, increase brand awareness, and drive sales.
Thanks to the official account, brands can share the news with their followers, publish images and video content, sell products, and respond to fan reviews and comments, enriching the shopping experience for customers.
If your content attracts the interest of your community, thanks to the type of sharing and word-of-mouth platform, you will quickly see your followers increase.
Furthermore, with the increase in your followers, your brand will be seen as more reliable in the eyes of Chinese users who tend not to trust brands they do not know.
To sum up, having an official account gives the brand the opportunity to interact with users through comments and transform inquiries into purchase opportunities.
How to open an official account on Xiaohongshu?
To open an official account the company must first create a personal account, then deliver certain documents to Xiaohongshu, including:
- The name of the company, logo, and trademark
- Chinese legal entity,
- Name, contact, and signature of the owner
The peculiarity is that the registration of the official account is much cheaper than other e-commerce or social media platforms such as Tmall or JD.com. Furthermore, the requirements and times to open a verified profile are less restrictive than those of other platforms, such as WeChat and Weibo.
Once the documents are approved, Little Red Book will open the shop and proceed with a training course for the company. The training provides a path to learn how to sell on the platform and optimize results.
Collaborations with KOLs and influencers on Xiaohongshu
Influencers and KOLs are the most powerful form of advertising the platform has to offer. The reason is that Chinese consumer is very suspicious and before finalizing a purchase they usually check the quality of the brand and the product on different online sources.
One of the best ways to promote a brand and products is to hire KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) and KOC (Key Opinion Consumers) that have a huge community online and are even more popular than celebrities in terms of communication and marketing. They are considered highly reliable, know their audience very well, and consequently know what content to offer them in a promotional campaign.
Therefore, collaborating with influencers on the platform allows to increase the awareness, credibility, and desirability of companies.
To achieve marketing success in China, many companies now collaborate with influencers and KOLs on the platform for this reason. Chinese and international companies such as Gucci, and Perfect Diary (the Chinese make-up brand), are working closely with both celebrities and KOLs to achieve these results.
Xiaohongshu’s ‘influencer platform’, a database hosting around 10,000 influencers is designed to connect you to those most relevant to your niche and budget.
For example, the popular beauty brand L’Oréal collaborated with Xiaohongshu to launch a new makeup collection exclusively for Chinese consumers. Through this partnership, L’Oréal was able to reach a wider audience and promote their products to Xiaohongshu’s millions of active users.
Investing in traditional paid advertising on Xiaohongshu
Xiaohongshu offers various advertising tools for brands. If you have doubts about the effectiveness of influencer marketing or organic marketing, you can choose a more traditional way which can be a safe way to start.
Many brands from several different industry sectors have shown good results from paid advertisements. The Cost-per-click of the paid advertisements starts at 0.3 RMB/CPC and the minimum ad fee is 5K RMB.
There are 2 forms of paid advertising on Xiaohongshu:
- Xiaohongshu ‘Pop-up’ ads
A pop-up ad is displayed when Xiaohongshu users open the Xiaohongshu app. The announcement also gives access to the brand store directly by pressing a small button at the bottom of the page.
- Xiaohongshu Integrated ads
Integrated advertising appears in the news (in both the discovery and the following pages), displaying the accounts the user subscribes to.
Users are advised of posts thanks to a small button at the bottom of the page on the left of the photo, called “Guanggao”, which means “advertising”.
You need to comply with regulations to advertise on Xiaohongshu
For the content to be reliable and truthful, Xiaohongshu and national advertising regulations prohibit companies from using languages such as “the best”, “the most”, “luxury”, “upscale” and others. Like this the Xiaohongshu app:
- Try to prevent companies from misleading users to sell their products.
- Allows only trustworthy content and tries to satisfy its customers by checking the information.
For a few years now, Xiaohongshu is becoming more and more of a platform for advertising. However, by striving to maintain the authenticity of the content, Xiaohongshu does not host it on a large scale.
This process may not be the best strategy for Xiaohongshu for two main reasons:
- Because this option is new and information about users and their interests cannot yet be effectively used for platform targeting.
- Chinese users do not have much confidence in advertising but prefer advice and suggestions from users.
What apart from advertising? Open an online store on Xiaohongshu!
Xiaohongshu makes shopping much easier with the help of the in-app online store. In fact, thanks to this model, users are not required to exit the app, but can quickly make purchases within the app through mobile payment systems.
Users of the platform can go directly to the brand store or they can see purchase (hyperlink) links when they see images and videos, and click on them to buy products.
There are largely two types of stores in Xiaohongshu:
- One is self-operated by Xiaohongshu (Xiaohongshu supports your products and buys them in advance)
- One is operated by registered brands (The company creates its own store)
Also, to create an individual seller store, the page must have a minimum of 1000 followers and the owner’s identity must be verified through ID verification.
How to open a store and start selling on Xiaohongshu?
Here is a step-by-step guide to opening an online store on Xiaohongshu:
- Sign up for Xiaohongshu via company email
- Fill in registration information (Once these steps are complete, Xiaohongshu will analyze your registration application and process it)
- Sign the agreement online and the paper version
Then, the company has access to its online store, as well as various training modules on the management platform Xiaohongshu.
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