How to engage Chinese customers with Little Red Book

It may be all about Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the West, but for Chinese consumers, a whole new set of social media platforms are in play. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at Little Red Book, and examine how Western brands can use this app to engage with a Chinese audience.

What is Little Red Book?

Little Red Book was set up in 2013 by two Chinese entrepreneurs, Charlwin Chairman Mao and Miranda Qu. The platform has 200 million registered users. Its share of cross-border e-commerce is nearly 6% and growing and it has an 8% conversion rate (compared to 2.6% on Tmall).

Red Book combines social media and e-commerce functionalities, making it unique in the Chinese digital marketplace:

1. As a social platform, it helps users to share reviews and to learn about new products within their network.
2. At the same time, the integrated e-commerce functionality allows users to make an immediate purchase if they are happy with the reviews they read – and sales can readily surpass other e-commerce platforms. For this reason, Little Red Book is already a hot favourite with a number of big Western brands, including Dior, Vivienne Westwood, MaxMara, Hugo Boss and GNC supplements.

Key things to know

– Key attributes of the platform are trust, convenience and community. Users post images of their favourite foreign products, share travel tips, swap shopping experiences and more.
– Users are typically employed women aged between 18-35 – who are urban, fashionable, dynamic and highly connected.
– Primary topics are beauty, fashion, luxury goods, travel and lifestyle.
– The ‘nearby’ feature allows travellers to see services and features near their location.
– ‘Explore’ offers visually appealing, curated content under a variety of lifestyle categories, including food, travel, beauty and fashion.
– ‘Notes’ allow users to see and share reviews – which are extensive on the platform. These can remain private. There are also links to e-commerce stores.
– Little Red Book is driven by genuine, first-hand and active user engagement, along with social media influencers, or KOLs.

Benefits of Little Red Book

– Users tend to be active, engaged and keen to share tips, reviews and ideas with other users.
– The platform has a sense of premium quality content and exclusivity.
– It’s a go-to resource of trusted peer-to-peer and influencer advice – in China, 54% of consumers validate their purchase decisions via reviews, compared to 47% globally.
– The average user makes 3 purchases on the platform a month.
– There is a low barrier to entry for Western brands.
– Conversion rates are high.
– An active presence on the platform also has SEO benefits.

How to use Little Red Book to engage Chinese customers

1. Set up your account

It’s relatively easy – and free – to set up an account onto Little Red Book. However, a verified account is not easy to set up. Once approved, your account can be designed to look like a WeChat account, with a homepage, brand story, post and branding functionalities available. It’s also possible to host an on-site store for eCommerce sales and various models of fulfilment are available, including drop shipping.

2. Use a KOL to build credibility and trust with your target audience

Key Opinion Leaders can be extremely effective for Western brands looking to engage with their Chinese target audience on Little Red Book. The choice of the right KOL for your brand – and the right sponsorship arrangement – can deliver an excellent ROI and conversions. At Market Me China, we have the necessary contacts to identify, recommend and liaise with the right KOL for your brand, and to analyse and track the results of your partnership arrangement.

3. Plan your content

– Translate your content into Mandarin Chinese or create fresh content

Little Red Book has a strong focus on quality and diverse content which offers genuine value to its user base, and which solves their problems. In that sense, Little Red Book isn’t really a platform for brand storytelling, but it is the place to provide rich information about product offers, such as colourways, price points, retail outlets etc. This will help your target audience to compare your product against others and to make a purchase decision.

– Choose the right images

Western brands should invest in beautiful images with an aspirational and editorial feel. Western brands are deemed to be of high quality and desirable to affluent Chinese buyers, so hallmarks of quality, heritage, style and distinction are well worth playing upon.

4. Actively manage your e-reputation.

There are two aspects to consider here:

a) Reviews

As we have discussed, reviews are a key feature of Little Red Book. What’s more, the platform breaks the mould by preventing anonymous reviews, default high settings or one-click ratings. Brands should be active in responding graciously to favourable reviews and – equally – handling any negative reviews in a positive way that demonstrates great service and a solution to concerns.

b) Comments

At the same time, the credibility of posts is determined by the engagement in the comments section and the proactive nature of the brand in responding to queries, tackling any negative comments, ‘chatting’ to users and so forth.

Western brands looking for success on Little Red Book must have an active presence on Little Red Book. This usually means having a dedicated, Chinese speaking, social marketing expert on hand to actively monitor the brand’s account presence and to be ready to engage and respond with Little Red Book users. At Market Me China, we provide this service to Western brands using the channel as part of their Chinese digital marketing strategy, and we also deliver in-depth analytics to evidence results.

5. Integrate your other China social media channels

There are a large number of Chinese social media channels and each has its own purpose, style, audience and key selling points. For example, if you have a Weibo brand account for micro-blogging and brand information sharing, you can integrate this into Little Red Book to provide the integrated ability to review and research products of interest further. This provides Chinese customers with a full pre-sales experience to guide them through the sales funnel – and, with an integrated e-commerce link – facilitate the ultimate conversion to purchase.

Find out more

Market Me China works with Western brands from across all industries to help them to succeed with their Chinese digital marketing activities. From SMEs looking to enter the lucrative and highly attractive Chinese market to established big name brands seeking to extend their brand presence amongst savvy and hyper-connected Chinese buyers, our team possesses the skills, experience and hands-on expertise needed to deliver your goals. Contact us now for a no-obligation chat about how we might assist you.