Red (Little Red Book, or Xiaohongshu in Chinese) is already a must-do platform in China’s content marketing space. In this article, we will compare the Red KOL marketing strategy of 2 yoga brands: Lululemon and Maia Active. In addition, we will offer practical suggestions for international brands operating in China.
Why Red is perfect for sports fashion brands
Red is the perfect intersection for brands between sports and fashion. It has 200 million Monthly Active Users, and more than 70% are female users. People are actively talking about fashion, fitness, lifestyle, beauty, etc, and looking for brands offering good quality products that can wear as daily fashion items.
Lululemon is still the No.1 yoga brand, while Maia Active tries hard to narrow the gap
Lululemon is still the unchallengeable No.1 brand in the yoga category. Even the well-funded Chinese brand Maia Active, which triples its sales revenue in 2 years, still has a long way to catch up with Canadian brand Lululemon. Why is Lululemon so successful?
Lululemon has a more solid grass-root foundation than Maia Active
We looked into Red posts mentioning Lululemon and Maia Active in the recent 90 days (September to December).
74% of Lululemon’s mentions come from ordinary users and KOCs (MAIA Active only 48%), indicating more popularity and grass-root organic sharing. In China, Lululemon is known as “the Hermès of Yoga.” The elevated brand positioning and a strong sense of community make consumers eager to share reviews on social media.
Maia Active is betting on primary and mid-tier KOL with follower numbers between 10k to 500k. Red KOLs of this follower range can produce quality content while still not too expensive like the top KOLs, so they are a cost-effective choice for brands.
During the same period, Lululemon got mentions from 8 celebrities and 18 Top KOLs, and Maia Active got only one celebrity and 10 Top KOL mentions. On Red, Top KOLs can work just as well as a mid-tier celebrity. Although both brands haven’t invested much in fame or PR – they don’t have any stars as official brand ambassadors, but instead focused on educating KOLs and KOCs to be their organic “brand ambassadors.”
Lululemon works with a variety of KOLs, while Maia Active focus on Fashion KOLs
Besides the tiers of influencers, both brands also have different considerations regarding what kind of KOLs they choose.
We looked at the TOP 20 best-performing Red Official campaigns (going through Red’s official PuGongYing platform to place the collaboration order. Red will charge a 10% commission but can provide official data tracking abilities. If you need help with how this works, contact us, and we are happy to help!).
Among the TOP 20 official campaigns, 79% of Maia Active campaigns collaborated with fashion KOLs (e.g., OOTD, outfit of the day). Although positioned as a yoga wear brand, Maia Active focuses more on the fashion feature than the sport and fitness side. Most KOLs concentrate on the extra warmth feature of the yoga pants (it’s December when we did this research, and it could get pretty cold in central-north China) and showcase how to mix and match with their winter closet to complete the fashion look.
As for Lululemon, they work with more diversified types of KOLs, including fashion (60%), sports & fitness (25%), work & life, travel, etc. As a well-established brand in the yoga and activewear vertical, Lululemon strives to affiliate more girls from all walks of life to grow further.
For international brands in the growing stage, it’s crucial to define your product’s key selling point, stay strong in your vertical, and create story-telling around this core. All the content marketing and KOL marketing efforts should be aligned, just like how Maia Active focus on the positioning of Fashionable yoga pants and choose Fashion KOLs to promote it.
For mature brands with existing awareness in China, consumers will be more patient to listen to your value proposition. Brands can divert more budget by trying different types of KOLs, and other platforms (Douyin, Bilibili, etc.) and reach out to a broader audience to keep growing their marketing funnel.
Want to take a further look at troubleshooting your China strategy? Reach out to us through the button below, and we will get back to you soon!