What Happened: Flex those Gucci belts and Prada purses somewhere else. On May 9, Xiaohongshu renewed its vow to clamp down on wealth flaunting online in hopes of maintaining a positive community of “sincere sharing and friendly interaction.”
The Chinese lifestyle platform stated that fake “entrepreneurial” personas will be punished for using misleading pictures of luxury products to drive traffic (e.g., posing with luxury goods and claiming to help people make a six-figure income in three months). Additionally, accounts that deliberately display luxury belongings without providing useful information — as well as those that promote excessive consumerism, such as launching a challenge to spend 1 million yuan a day — will also be targeted.
The clean up campaign comes a few days after China’s version of Instagram released a code of conduct for businesses to keep the platform “an authentic space with transparent engagement.” Among the guidelines, Xiaohongshu emphasized that “brands should not exaggerate or whitewash their content.” Even when sponsoring content, they should ensure that creators are speaking from real experiences and “not overly interfere with the content creation process.”
The Jing Take: As marketing campaigns by luxury brands do not typically involve ostentatious displays of wealth or violate Xiaohongshu’s “sincere sharing” goal, the flaunting rule largely applies to consumers. What luxury players should be concerned about, however, is the broader trend: namely, luxury consumption and extreme wealth being seen as at odds with China’s social values. This comes amid Beijing’s push for common prosperity, which has led to several billionaire tech founders stepping out of the spotlight and more high-profile stars being fined for tax evasion.
Where brands could run into trouble on the platform is with false marketing. After posts by 29 popular brands, including Nivea, Dove, and Neutrogena, were deleted last December on suspicion of false marketing (with no further details given), the community guidelines now better clarify why certain posts are removed. Besides ensuring that products meet expectations, brands should also refrain from using clickbait, fear-based tactics, or “tension between different groups such as genders” in their marketing activities.
Xiaohongshu’s advantage lies in the fact that it is a space where consumers can authentically share, discover, and review products. As many posts contain keywords like “how to buy” and “is it worth buying,” this user-generated content not only helps brands increase conversion but also learn how their audience is engaging with their business. As such, Xiaohongshu asking for more honesty from both users and brands should help preserve the reliability and trust that made it so popular in the first place.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.