Xiaohongshu: A new route to China for international fashion brands

With a large community of consumer-driven users who are always looking for new experiences and items, Xiaohongshu is a key partner in marrying the Chinese consumer with international brands, sometimes hard to get, even if they are not yet available in China.

Such was the case with the new Bulgarian luxury brand By Far. Despite previously not having an official presence in China, its shoulder bags became popular among Chinese consumers, which the brand found was largely due to word of mouth on Xiaohongshu.

“Xiaohongshu has always been a lively show for people to showcase their finds and share their thoughts with the world, which often sparks new relationships between emerging brands and the Chinese consumer,” says Valentina Ignatova, co-founder and CMO at By Far .

Ignatova notes that Xiaohongshu’s “many lively content creators” have so far helped grow and establish brand awareness even before entering China. Today, there are over 10,000 organic posts on Xiaohongshu that mention By Far, indicating strong brand resonance and recognition. After its first flagship store in Los Angeles, the brand aims to open its second flagship store in Shanghai later this year.

“For brands with a strategic plan towards the Chinese consumer, Xiaohongshu, with its perception as the birthplace of supernova products and services, is always the best vehicle to convey their messages,” says Ignatova.

The power of word of mouth

Feedback from Chinese consumers through organic user-generated content on Xiaohongshu may also surprise well-known international brands. Swiss watchmaker Longines discovered Chinese consumers’ interest in one of their signature products through the platform, which led to the rebranding of its product line in China.

The brand’s “Prima Luna” model was launched more than 10 years ago, but never found its way into the Chinese mainland market until Xiaohongshu users made it an “it” product. In 2019, a number of Chinese consumers purchased Prima Luna in shopping destinations including Dubai, Hong Kong and Macau and shared photos on the platform.

Word of mouth quickly spread and Chinese shoppers began looking elsewhere for the product, some even contacting Longines China to ask why the Prima Luna couldn’t be found in-store or on its flagship Tmall store. Longines quickly introduced the model to the market and launched an interactive online campaign for Xiaohongshu users in late 2020. Featuring the gift recommendation video of Chinese actor, singer and Longline brand ambassador Zhao Liying, the campaign recorded a higher click than the average rate.

Leveraging trends for the Chinese consumer

Xiaohongshu’s large community of consumers gives brands the opportunity to test new things in the Chinese market through the platform, extending into trends such as the metaverse. This explains why By Far was willing to launch its first NFT in Xiaohongshu. On July 15, the brand unveiled its limited edition NFT project to celebrate the upcoming Qixi Festival – Chinese Valentine’s Day. The brand released exclusive virtual pendants that could be purchased from July 27 to August 7 and can be displayed in Xiaohongshu’s virtual space R-Space.

Throughout its journey, from assessing evolving consumer interest, to brands and marketing campaigns, to leveraging the latest trends, Xiaohongshu has accompanied By Far, demonstrating how the platform is able to provide a one-stop solution for western and international brands trying to crack the Chinese market.

Comments, questions or comments? Email us at feedback@voguebusiness.com.

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