Little Red Book is the “Instagram” of China. The social media platform is based on picture sharing and mainly used by Chinese girls. I am Olivier VEROT, founder of GMA, and we are specialised in helping Western brands entering the Chinese market, and in this article, I will share tips, trends and an analysis of Little Red Book and the Chinese Cosmetics Market.
The cosmetics market in China
China is a flourishing market for international cosmetics brands. Chinese women can no longer do without their beauty products and more and more Chinese men are starting to take care of their skin as well.
Therefore, many brands have decided to target the Chinese market by offering products tailored to this particular market: whitening cream, anti-pollution serum, or anti-aging masks; brands are innovating. By the end of 2018, the cosmetics market in China had reached a value of 110 billion dollars.
Let’s explore how Western brands can take advantage of this growing market. What are the best tools to target cosmetics buyers? How can a Western brand stand out and succeed in the ultra-competitive Chinese market?
To start with, brands must invest in a digital strategy in China, but it is often difficult to know what will be the most appropriate platform for a product. In the case of cosmetics, the choice is obvious: Little Red Book is the go-to app!
What’s Little Red Book?
Little Red Book (or Xiaohongshu in Chinese) is a platform created in 2013. In In the beginning, it was used to share photos and articles of products bought when traveling abroad. Today, it’ fas the number 1 Social Commerce platform in China.
Social Commerce is a new type of booming business in China. Social commerce is combining the power of influence of a social network with the ease of use of an e-commerce website. As a social network, Little Red Book allows its users to post pictures, videos and articles. On the e-commerce front, brands have the opportunity to create their own e-shop integrated into the platform. If a user is loving a product they see on an influencer, it is possible to buy it directly via a link embedded in the photo that redirects to the shop of the brand.
As of 2019, Little Red Book is open to international sellers via its cross-border e-commerce program. The process of getting started as a brand is slightly different from what you may be used to compared to registering for an online platform in the West.
Some things that may be different are:
- The RED registration process
- Setting up your e-shop
- Launching and managing advertising campaigns
Why Little Red Book has become the most powerful platform for cosmetics brands
Little Red Book is one of the last applications that isn’t filled with ads (unlike Weibo which is overwhelmed by ads). In addition, the content of the application is 100% based on UGC (user generated content). Generally speaking, product reviews are considered to be much more reliable and trustworthy than ads.. Instead, users exchange tips, DIYs and share recommendations and product reviews. As all users share the same interests and values, Little Red Book also has one of the strongest communities out of any social network.
It is a win-win: Little Red Book members have access to trusted data and a social network to interact with other users; and brands are able to sell more as users trust the content. Pair that with the ability to set up an integrated shop and it is no wonder that Little Red Book has gained success.
KOL / Influencer Strategies
One of the benefits of Little Red Book is that it can target a relevant consumer segment. With an audience consisting of 43.8% living in first-tier cities and 88% women, Little Red Book has become a channel of choice for brands targeting affluent young women.
The other advantage is that it allows to set up a KOL (key opinion leader) strategy. KOLs are web personalities who have gathered a community around their passion and their content. LRB is a platform for detailed photo and video reviews, and has become an ideal channel for communicating beauty-related content.
The advantage of partnering with KOL is that they are content marketing professionals. They know their community better than anyone else and they can promote a brand's products with precise, tailor-made and targeted posts.
This authenticity is very appreciated for review of cosmetics brands/ products that are carefully chosen by Chinese women.
To optimise the implementation of KOL campaigns, Little Red Book has created a platform for introducing brands to KOLs matching their images and their targets in order to promote their products. This platform allows brands to monetise their community on social networks and increase customer engagement.
KOLs are very influential and can make a brand known to an audience that did not yet know it and / or make the brand much more attractive to potential buyers. In addition, while being a brand campaign, the effect of KOL campaigns on the community is measurable by looking at engagement with the posts (number of likes, comments, shares, etc.).
Over the past years, Little Red Book has taken on the challenge of developing itself and offering ever more innovative solutions to improve the user experience as well as providing a reliable platform for brands to promote their products while maintaining the authenticity of posts.