Here’s Why Xiaohongshu Faces KOL and Product Challenges
Xiaohongshu or RED or Little Red Book has surely gained popularity at its earliest stage as compared to other start-ups, but off late it has been under the radar for all the wrong reasons. The social e-commerce platform has been tightening its fists with brand and KOL partnerships because of the backlash it has received in the past few months.
The Rise Of Xiaohongshu
The platform first started gaining its popularity from users that travelled overseas and posted reviews about products from the fashion, beauty, makeup, health, baby product sectors. Users kept coming back to discuss the products in depth before eventually making the purchase. 85% of these users were female born in the ’90s. This millennial cohort soon became best friends with the app for its authenticity and quality maintenance (given the counterfeit issues on other platforms). New moms could trust the app for baby products, makeup and skincare enthusiasts knew they had a safe platform to rely on for reviews because of the quality it maintained. The platform soon opened its doors to brand partnerships with giants like Chanel and Dior, peaking the interest of other global brands.
The Fall Of Xiaohongshu
Xiaohongshu failed to monitor the reviews that kept going out on a daily basis after which many users retreated to Weibo to express their remorse. According to reports from the internal team, its content-audit team deleted about 4,285 notes a day which was still not enough. Users further began to lose faith in the content because it all seemed to be filled with advertised or fake posts, instead of genuine user-generated content.
Quality Of Products
In addition to that, Xiaohongshu was incompetent when it couldn’t maintain the quality of products that were sold on the platform. Sales of restricted and fake products started spreading on the platforms and some products like tobacco, e-cigarettes and medicinal products such as skin-injection kits tarnished the name of the brand it first stood for.
Things got rough when Ms Fang ordered the ordinary-brand skin cream after she received a recommendation from a friend overseas. Matters got worse when the cream caused a skin reaction after which she concluded that she was sold a fake and called out the platform for encouraging the sale.
KOLs On Xiaohongshu
Xiaohongshu took the necessary steps to take control of the situation and sign up with authentic KOLs in January and introduced a process with more controlled requirements, making it difficult for brands and KOLs to partner with the platform.
The number of KOLs that qualified for the platform fell from a whooping 17,000 to a mere 4,700 according to reports. This system gave rise to the micro-influencer structures that developed a closer connection with their audience and put back the sole reason this platform was devised for – User-generated content.
What E-commerce Brand Marketers Must Learn From Xiaohongshu
Millennials won’t compromise on quality no matter what the price label says when it comes to skincare, health and other products that could cause any sort of physical damage. E-commerce platforms have to think about their reputation while striking partnerships and maintain a strict quality control because reliability goes a long way
Xiaohongshu will spring back before users know it and will regain their position in the market. It plans to launch KOL live streaming to bridge the current credibility gap and is set to give more power to its users by launching the new XHS Ecosystem Manager feature, which will give experience users a manager position after passing rule-compliance tests. The ecosystem managers are set to have voting rights on whether the content is genuine or violates rules, thereby making the customer a true king.
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