With over 60 million registered users, Redbook is one of the largest and fastest growing social e-commerce apps in China. It is a word-of-mouth marketing platform where consumers can discover and buy international products based on trusted user-generated content, including recommendations and reviews. Its most popular items include foreign cosmetics, beauty supplies, and health products.
The platform holds massive opportunities for brands in these categories, yet it is often overlooked and underutilized, possibly because brands do not fully understand user behavior on the platform and are therefore using it ineffectively.
Many brands focus on the platform’s e-commerce capabilities, seeing the opportunity to drive direct sales. And that certainly is one of its defining features. Redbook blurs the line between social media and e-commerce unlike any other platform out there. It’s a social platform built around discovering new products and sharing reviews, yet is also an e-commerce platform where people are able to directly purchase products seen in those reviews.
And, while some people may purchase items from the platform, the majority of users actually use the app mainly for product research. Redbook has become a go-to resource for China’s knowledge-hungry female consumers who use the platform essentially like a product search engine, to educate themselves prior to purchasing an item.
Therefore, the true value of Redbook lies in the tendency of its users to turn to the platform for product advice, to learn from others’ experiences with the product, and to ultimately decide whether it’s worth buying.
Chinese millennial Annie shared how she typically uses the app. “There is an upcoming annual sale at Sephora and I’m trying to decide which items to buy, so I have been looking up each item I’m interested in on Redbook to read reviews and find out what other people think about them.”
She does not plan on buying any of the items directly through Redbook, but the content on Redbook will greatly affect her purchasing decisions. This is because reviews on Redbook are written by a mix of both influencers and regular users and are often considered more trustworthy than reviews on other platforms.
Online Product Comparisons and Reviews Are Crucial in China
While Western brands understand that online reviews are important to the consumer journey, they might not understand the extent of their importance in China.
In recent years, the Chinese consumer has evolved. The days of indiscriminate spending on products are in the past. The focus is shifting to prioritizing premium products and living a more balanced, healthy, and family-centric life. They are overwhelmed by choice and they want to choose the right products that will make them look good.
Because of this, Chinese consumers do much more research before purchasing a product than average consumers in the developed world do. In China, 54 percent of consumers seek to validate product quality through reviews, comments and feedback prior to purchasing compared to 47 percent globally, and 27 percent will write their own review of the product or experience after purchasing compared to 20 percent globally.
The in-depth reviews and photos on Redbook are generally much higher quality than on other ecommerce sites causing many consumers to turn to Redbook when they need to make a decision.
Redbook Facilitates Discovery
Apart from searching for a particular product, Redbook users also enjoy browsing through the app to discover new products. If they come across something they are interested in, they can hit ‘collect’ and save it to a folder which they can to go back to later. They can also create boards similar to Pinterest. Also similar to Pinterest, when a user scrolls to the bottom of a post they will see recommended posts related to the one they are currently looking at.
Collaborating with Redbook influencers
Similar to any other social media platform, the best way to increase your brand’s presence on Redbook is by working with Redbook influencers, either through product seeding or through sponsored posts.
What brands might find surprising, however, is that influencer CPMs (cost per 1K impressions) are actually higher on Redbook than on Weibo. A Weibo post by a top-tier KOL is approximately 30,000 RMB for one million impressions, whereas a top-tier KOL on Redbook will charge the same amount for 350,000 impressions.
This all comes down to user behavior. Impressions on Redbook are more valuable due to the consumers’ mindset when they are on the app. Consumers go to Redbook because they want to learn about products. They already have the intent to buy, and therefore product reviews are more valuable to them and they are likely to spend a longer time looking at a post. Conversely, Weibo users generally want to be entertained and stay up to date on news and trends, and they might just flip past a product-related post.
Typical Redbook Content
A Redbook post will typically contain several photos which the viewer can swipe through (similar to Instagram) followed by a long caption providing a detailed description of the product, the user’s experience, pros and cons, how to properly use it, etc. Instead of photos, the user can also upload videos up to several minutes in length.
Below are examples of posts from three top-tier luxury beauty and fashion influencers on Redbook.
@大睿睿 (Da Ruirui), 1.25 million followers
In this post, Da Ruirui is reviewing the same Sephora sale that Annie mentioned. She outlines what she thinks the best deals are and why.
@Irene林恩如, 1.7 million followers
Here, Irene teaches her followers step-by-step how to use dry shampoo. Because dry shampoo is a relatively new concept in China, she also explains why you might want to use it and gives social proof by showing pictures of popular Instagram influencers using this product too.
@莉莉安Lilian, 1.1 million followers
In this post, Lilian reviews a set of Lancôme skincare products and shares with her readers whether or not she thinks they are worth the expensive three thousand RMB price tag.
Although it doesn’t have the mass recognition of mammoth platforms like Weibo and WeChat, or the hype of trendy platforms like Douyin, Redbook is a platform that more brands need to be using. With a focus on informative, in-depth content and an active user base of affluent millennial females who are eager to shop – what more could you ask for?