Part social media, part travel shopping guide, and part e-commerce platform, the Chinese app RED (Xiaohongshu, 小红书) is generating significant buzz about luxury brands for global Chinese travelers heading abroad and shoppers taking advantage of cross-border e-commerce at home.
Thanks to the popularity in China of purchasing foreign brands abroad to avoid high tariffs, luxury is a particularly hot topic for posts by RED users. This is a trend in L2’s new Cross-Border and Travel Retail Insight Report, which ranks the Index brands mentioned on RED by both total number of mentions and year-over-year growth in mentions. Indexed Luxury Fashion brands were mentioned at higher volumes than those in both the Beauty and Watches & Jewelry categories, with Chanel dominating the list with a total of 2.24 million posts.
Users create a variety of content on RED, including discussions of recent purchases, tips on where to buy products abroad, and posts on daigou items for sale (referring to goods bought abroad to avoid tariffs and sold in China). The app, which has over 15 million downloads, has expanded from its original role as a social shopping guide to feature both C2C e-commerce and the opportunity for brands to open official cross-border e-commerce shops. So far, this feature has attracted several prominent foreign beauty brands, including Korean brands Sulwhasoo and Innisfree.
While brands in the pure luxury category such as Chanel and Dior rule mentions on the app for now, accessible luxury labels are quickly gaining more buzz. Pure luxury is of most interest to RED users overall, taking up the top seven slots on the list of most brands mentioned. French fashion labels are a particular favorite for discussion, with Chanel, Dior, Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton making up the top four slots, and Givenchy and Hermès coming in after fifth-place Prada. Meanwhile, accessible luxury is catching up: seven out of the 10 brands seeing the most year-over-year growth in mentions are accessible luxury labels, with Max Mara, Ralph Lauren, Stuart Weitzman, and Tumi all more than doubling in number of mentions, indicating a growing interest in accessible brands for traveling Chinese shoppers as China’s middle class expands.