Third time’s the charm? Douyin relaunches seeding app Kesong

Two years after the short-lived first incarnation of the Kesong app took aim at Xiaohongshu (RED), and 6 years after the also short-lived Xincao app by fellow ByteDance-owned platform Toutiao, Douyin, TikTok’s Chinese sister app, has redoubled its efforts in entering the “seeding” (种草) fray by relaunching Kesong.

The Douyin and TikTok owner launched Xincao through its content platform Toutiao in 2018 as a way to build a recommendation-driven, e-commerce ecosystem similar to Xiaohongshu. However, it lasted less than a year after ByteDance found it incompatible with existing content distribution models. Kesong, (可颂, transliteration of croissant but lit. recommendable) was later launched in 2022.

Although the new app has the advantage of integrating content from Douyin, it was hard to replicate the community Xiaohongshu has been building for years. The app lasted about 3 months before terminating its services. Toutiao did take another shot at seeding with its Youshi (有柿) app last year, but unlike Kesong, it was less directly aimed at Xiaohongshu.

The new version of Kesong is created and operated by the team behind the likes of CapCut (剪映), ByteDance’s short-form video editing app. The new design of the app resembles a combination of Xiaohongshu’s layout and Instagram’s colour scheme. The logo has also been changed from the “ke” (可) to a line drawing of an abstract croissant, similar to Instagram’s Threads logo. The new slogan is “unlock trends, highlight lifestyles” (解锁潮流高光生活方式) and is aimed at a younger audience. Although the launch was not advertised, the new Kesong was downloaded 39,260 times in 7 days, having reached number 4 on the Apple App Store.

Xiaohongshu advanced into e-commerce last year with a complete ecosystem of seeding/recommendation and community with positive results. Douyin itself does have seeding capabilities but Kesong can provide a more lifestyle-centric community for the platform outside Douyin, but with access to Douyin’s pool of users and content. The aim is to create an active community like Xiaohongshu has. With 800 million daily active users, Douyin has the edge compared to Xiaohongshu’s 312 million monthly active users. The success of the new version depends on whether it can do what the previous one couldn’t, which is building the community by tapping into the vast user pool.


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