China Social Media: The Little Red Book

Here’s an interesting story:

On February 24, 2023, a Chinese actress who had not featured in any new film or TV work for about a decade, launched two live streams on Xiaohongshu. Her live commerce sessions spanned for six hours and reached an estimated total GMV of $10 million.

Here’s another interesting fact:

According to Statista, nearly 1 billion social media users were recorded in China as of 2021; making China the country with the largest social media population! This figure is expected to hit nearly 1.3 billion by 2026.

Naturally, a virtual ecosystem so massive is the hub of multiple social media platforms, each uniquely designed for a certain purpose and audience.

This blog spotlights the one called Xiaohongshu or The Little Red Book. You’re about to find out what it is, and how it can become your next big base!

The Little Red Book: For Who, By Whom?

The “Little Red Book,” also known as Xiaohongshu in Mandarin, was launched in 2013 by Miranda Qu and Charlwin Mao. The platform was originally designed as a lifestyle and travel recommendation app, but it would evolve into a social shopping platform where users discover and purchase products from around the world.

Between the end of 2019 and 2021, Xiaohongshu gained rapid popularity, with its Monthly Active Users (MAU) shooting up from 100 million to 200 million. From the end of 2021 to date, Xiaohongshu’s MAU has remained on a steady increase to about 260 million, with an annual growth rate of 30%.

The formidable growth rate of the Xiaohongshu in China inevitably begs the question of “who uses it?” The simple answer is: everybody. Lifestyle shopping is an activity that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of age or gender.

However, Qiangua’s 2022 XiaoHongshu Active User Portrait Trend Report states that more than 85% of the Little Red Book’s users are women and 44.9% are between the ages of 18 to 24.

Age and gender distribution, 2022, Graph source: CBNData

This demographic aptly includes the biggest lifestyle enthusiasts and spenders of the Chinese economy: women and young people.                                                           It is little wonder that the Little Red Book has become a holy grail.

The Little Red Book: Compared to What?

Since its launch in 2013, Little Red Book has been compared with other major social media platforms such as Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok.

Despite sharing similarities with these other platforms, the Little Red Book is seemingly in a league of its own – combining the most alluring elements of other media into itself for a truly distinctive outlook. Here are a few pointers:

  • Like Instagram, the Little Red Book is primarily a visual platform, with users sharing photos and videos of products and experiences.
  • Unlike Instagram, the Little Red Book is centered around product reviews and recommendations, with users often sharing in-depth reviews and detailed   information about the products they use – to guide other shoppers.
  • Like Instagram and TikTok, the Little Red Book allows users to create and share short-form videos – but with a focus on product reviews and recommendations.
  • Unlike Instagram, the Little Red Book is optimized to be more actionable rather than for passive consumption of content.
  • Unlike typical e-commerce platforms, Little Red Book runs on a unique blend of trusted user-generated content, word of mouth advertising, and online community-    building.

The Little Red Book: Features and Layout

The overarching outstanding feature of the Little Red Book is the integration of social media and e-commerce, allowing users to easily discover and purchase products recommended by influencers and other users Users of the Little Red Book can follow accounts, create and share content, and products directly through the platform (ecommerce and live commerce).

In addition, the Little Red Book operates a decentralized traffic distribution mechanism. This means that traffic is more dependent on algorithm patterns than follower count – making it possible for a newly created account with very few followers to generate tremendous traffic, if their content is engaging and interesting.

High-quality and traffic-generating content can be discovered via the search page, recommendation page (Explore), and by followers of the user – whether individual or brand.

The Little Red Book: A Big Base

From Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Celine to Saint Laurent and Givenchy, brands that are well grounded in the Chinese market have discovered and harnessed the efficacy of the Little Red Book. Not only does it spread the word about the latest product, it engages customers meaningfully, adding up to sustainable brand recognition.

With its integrated e-commerce feature, Xiaohongshu has become the big base for assorted promotions of products by respective brands. Customers purchase these products as recommended by influencers and other users directly through the platform.

Here’s a practical lowdown:


  1. There is no obvious shopping basket sign on the home page
  2.  Click on the desired frame to see video of product with prices marked, indicating that the item can be purchased in-app
  3.  Click through to see more and detailed videos of product, add to shopping cart/buy now
  4.  Click through to select size/color/quantity
  5.  Click away to select a payment method and delivery details

The simple, subtle art of interactive marketing makes the Little Red Book ideal for promoting products in skincare, cosmetics, and fashion. For your brand to get the best out of the platform, here are tips to get you on your way:

  • Create a brand official account and in-app online store
  •  Create original content that showcases your products in an authentic and engaging way. This can include high-quality product photos, user-generated content, and     detailed product descriptions.
  •  Collaborate with KOLs on sponsored product reviews contents to maximize reach and impact, and gain wider audiences.

Your product can become the next rave of China’s cyberspace with the right use of the Little Red Book and the right hands to help you there.


At Smplcty:

We are experts in helping technology and lifestyle brands with their launch and promotion on the Little Red Book. If you are interested in what we do or want to discuss more about the marketing situation in general, feel free to drop us a message.

You can find us on social media or via email. 

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