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TikTok’s Decline among Youth in China and Rise of Xiaohongshu

TikTok, once hailed as the social network of the youth, is experiencing a shift in popularity within China’s dynamic market. While it remains prevalent, its status as the ultimate platform for young users is being challenged by a rising contender: Xiaohongshu.

Just as emoticons and emojis have given way to GIFs and stickers, social networks undergo phases of popularity and decline. In the fast-paced Chinese market, this flux is particularly pronounced.

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Rise of Xiaohongshu

Xiaohongshu, or “Little Red Book,” initially an e-commerce platform for imported goods, has transformed into a lifestyle-focused social network often likened to Instagram. Boasting 300 million registered users, with 200 million active monthly users, it has garnered attention as the new hotspot for the younger demographic.

Xiaohongshu’s user base predominantly comprises Gen Z individuals, with 70% being women. While it may not match TikTok’s sheer user numbers, it poses a formidable challenge, prompting TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, to launch competing platforms like Xincao and Sharee.

TikTok's Decline among Youth in China and Rise of Xiaohongshu (1)

Xiaohongshu thrives as a hub for recommendations and influencer marketing, where users share lifestyle insights, including plans, trips, and dining experiences. Its popularity among urban dwellers underscores its significance in Chinese social culture.

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TikTok’s Changing Landscape

Although TikTok remains a force, its user demographics are shifting. Globally, only a minority of its users fall within the 18-24 age bracket, with the average age skewing higher, particularly in markets like the United States.

As time passes, TikTok’s user base is maturing, with a significant portion now in their thirties and forties. Late adopters contribute to this trend, necessitating the platform’s evolution to retain its existing user cohort.

TikTok’s pivot towards features like long-form videos, e-commerce integrations, and horizontal clips reflects a strategy to retain its older users while potentially attracting new demographics.

Dispelling Myths

Contrary to popular belief, Facebook remains relevant across age groups, with a sizable portion of users falling within the 25-34 age bracket, followed closely by those aged 18-24 and 35-44.

As social networks evolve and user demographics shift, platforms like TikTok must adapt to retain their relevance in an ever-changing landscape. Meanwhile, emerging contenders like Xiaohongshu signal a diversification of preferences among Chinese youth.

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