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More HongKongers turning to Xiaohongshu: How can local brands best capitalise on the trend?

More HongKongers turning to Xiaohongshu: How can local brands best capitalise on the trend?

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Xiaohongshu (小紅書), also known as RED or the Little Red Book, is undoubtedly one of the most coveted social media platforms in China with over 200 million monthly active users, according to Chinese martech agency EternityX Marketing Technology. The social media app is also rapidly budding in Hong Kong as Eternity X saw a 50% growth in daily active users in Hong Kong year over year, reaching 1.13M+ users as of April this year.

In a conversation with MARKETING-INTERACTIVE, Charlene Ree, CEO and founder of Eternity X Marketing Technology said the popularity of the app started around four to five years ago. However, it has been gaining even more popularity among certain user segments, such as females aged between 18 and 35 with interests in beauty, shopping, food, travel, amongst others.

Social media experts MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to also agreed that Hong Kong is seeing more and more consumers using Xiaohongshu, especially the younger segment audience.

Jeffrey Hau, CEO of PRIZM Group said that he has noticed a significant uptick in the popularity of the social media app, and he said most users are females between the age group of 25 and 35, according to an informal survey he conducted among his colleagues in the Hong Kong office.

Agreeing with Hau was Vin Ng, director at social media agency Spread-It, who said the agency has observed a notable increase in Xiahongshu users in Hong Kong. According to its recent study, approximately 75% of Gen Z individuals (aged 13-26) rely on the app as their go-to platform for discovering fashion, beauty, food, and even travel-related information. “Additionally, official Xiaohongshu ad DMP data has revealed that there are over 1.2 million active XHS users in Hong Kong, with the user base expanding at a rapid pace,” he added.

Why HongKongers are turning to Xiaohongshu? 

The rise in usage of Xiaohongshu among Hong Kong consumers is probably due to its ability to fill the gaps for users who are actively looking for relevant experience sharing, shopping recommendations and insightful information.

Eternity X's Ree said: “Originally, the content creators were mainly from China. In recent years, it has been embraced by Chinese expats living in Hong Kong and gradually adopted by many Hong Kong local celebrities, influencers, and content creators."

Naturally, the increase in Hong Kong local relevant content has also helped attract more Hong Kong local audiences to the platform.

Developed from a business model that combines content sharing and eCommerce to a social platform, Xiaohongshu users have been nurtured since day one to curate “review” and “recommendation” content, which has led to a highly concentrated community of female users, said PRIZM’s Hau. “In short, the platform has become a huge word-of-mouth database, and everyone is a key opinion consumers (KOC),” he added.

While Xiaohongshu is seen as the Chinese version of Instagram, the platform’s specialty lies in its unique blend of trusted user-generated content, word-of-mouth advertising, and online community-building, said Spread-It's Ng. “For platforms that are heavily reliant on user-generated content, fraudulent behaviour could pose a challenge to credibility. That’s why Xiaohongshu has been taking content creditability very seriously and is very strict on its regulation and content monitoring,” he added.

An example of which is that the use of superlatives is prohibited on the platform, Ng added.

With this, it provides users an experience that is more credible and likeable, and thus it comes as no surprise that there has been a remarkable increase in the number of app users.

Agreeing with him was Xen Chia, strategic marketing director of social media management agency XGATE, who said it is the quality of information and high level of trust for consumers’ opinions that contributes to the success of Xiaohongshu. “This resembles platforms such as Reddit, Quora, Craigslist forums, Chinese consumers will search for brands and products on Xiaohongshu to get opinions before making purchase decisions,” he added.

On the other hand, with the app's user-friendly interface and curated content, Kate Kwan, general manager of TEAM LEWIS Hong Kong said it aligns well with the city’s mobile-centric culture that allows users to navigate seamlessly through a world of inspiration at their fingertips. “It is becoming a go-to app destination for discovering product recommendations, travel tips, and lifestyle content,” she added.

Why are Hong Kong brands also investing in Xiaohongshu? 

Apart from consumers, brands in Hong Kong are also tapping into the Xiaohongshu frenzy as part of their business growth strategy. A check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE saw that many local brands have created Xiaohungshu accounts such as Sa Sa、Luk Fook Jewellery六福珠寶、Chow Sang Sang周生生、Chow Tai Fook周大福 and Kee Wah Bakery 奇華餅家.

XGATE's Chia said that for brands that are just starting to explore Xiaohongshu, WeChat and Douyin, they could be looking to attract inbound tourists from China to boost foot traffic for their retail stores in Hong Kong since the reopening of the borders between both regions.

Another trend is cross-border eCommerce strategy, under which brands will use mini-programmes in WeChat, Douyin and Xiaohongshu as retail channels to sell products, Chia added. “If consumer can’t find your products in Xiaohongshu, your brand visibility is relatively low and that means the trust for your brand will also be low."

Brands will invest in XHS to build their profile and eventually direct traffic to retail stores and online commerce for sales. Indeed, a well thought out XHS marketing strategy yields better ROI than marketplaces.

On the other hand, PRIZM's Hau believed that Xiaohongshu only applies to local brands in the retail space that rely on tourism, as many brands are still in a very early exploration stage. “For the ones that have not planned to start their own branded page yet, they are actively seeking cooperation with  (KOCs) and KOLs on the Xiaohongshu platform," he added.

For marketers, the app offers a new opportunity as it seems to be the place there much of the current traction is happening.

Agreeing with Hau was Eternity X’s Ree, who said Hong Kong consumers have had their shopping behaviour greatly impacted by KOLs and KOCs on Xiaohongshu. “A comprehensive social seeding programme with Xiaohongshu KOLs and KOCs can cultivate very positive word-of-mouth marketing...Given the UGC nature of the app, Xiaohongshu is particularly well-suited for influencer marketing,” she added.

Furthermore, Ree believed that local brands should consider investing more in the Xiaohongshu marketing ecosystem, given that their users have already immersed themselves in the "Read, Like, Buy" action mindset, which can help brands shorten the purchase process. “With the right strategy and proposition, the app can be an ideal platform for Hong Kong brands that lack an online presence in China and wish to connect with a vibrant community of local and overseas Chinese shoppers,” she added.

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