Xiaohongshu thrives off live stream business, stepping up in monetisation

China’s lifestyle-sharing platform Xiaohongshu is reported to have upgraded its live streaming business into an independent department, integrating live streaming content and corresponding e-commerce management, as per the Chinese media outlet LatePost on 10 March.

The new division will be led by Yin Shi (byname), who also oversees Xiaohonogshu’s Department of Community. Prior to the move, live stream was part of the Community division. Since its launch in 2013, Xiaohongshu has long had a beat in text-and-image-based content. It wasn’t until 2020, that it dipped its toes in the waters of video, by introducing its own “Video Channel”, which allows users with a minimum of 500 followers to post video content of up to 15 minutes.

The step, therefore, shows Xiaohongshu’s intention to expand its foothold in the video-sharing territory, in particular, leveraging live streaming, which continues to gain steam in China’s digital space, to diversify the avenue for further growth.

The action is also hot on the heels of Xiaohongshu’s launch announcement of its “Fashion Spark Scheme” at the E-commerce and Live Stream Fashion Partners Conference held on 6 March in Shanghai. The initiative is designed to provide support, including online traffic direction, product selection and marketing strategies, for fashion merchants and video bloggers on its platform, paving the way for its live stream ramp-up.

It was also revealed that the platform pulled off a 337% year-on-year growth in the number of live streamers in 2022, with another 214% yearly increase in the amount of live streaming sessions. This shows the huge potential that live streams can bring for Xiaohongshu in terms of monetisation and pulling up further growth.

This is further evidenced by the sensation around the latest live streams hosted by Dong Jie. The Chinese actress amassed 500,000 new followers over two live streams, drawing in more than 2.2 million tune-ins and producing a total GMV of over 30 million RMB (4.38 million USD).

Although the figures may not be as impressive as those recorded by other social media platforms that have a beat in video content, such as Douyin (Chinese TikTok) and Kuaishou, Dong’s momentum signals the uniqueness of live streams on Xiaohongshu. Instead of a rousing atmosphere where hosts are shouting loudly about discounts and viewers are prompted to place orders, Dong has focused more on the presentation of a product and describing user experience, all in a family setting, which is a nod to Xiaohongshu’s lifestyle niche.

Such a live streaming approach is also compatible with Xiaohongshu’s user persona – mainly demographics of Gen Z and Millennials with a higher education background and who are financially comfortable. While finding those “energetic” live streams rather intimidating, these savvy users view Dong’s version as more “genuine” despite the products she presented as being generally more expensive.

Although Xiaohongshu might have been late to the live stream party, with its unique lifestyle ecosystem together with a user base that pursues a high-quality life experience, it has the opportunity to set itself apart from other platforms, and to catch up with existing market players while driving further monetisation.


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