Alibaba is testing Taibang, a new fashion and social shopping app similar to Xiaohongshu, as the Chinese e-commerce titan tries to consolidate its dominance in China’s e-commerce market.

Why it matters: Alibaba joined a slew of local peers such as Meituan and ByteDance in following Xiaohongshu’s zhongcao (meaning sowing grass) strategy, a business model that drives sales through reviews on social media platforms. 

  • Competition in China’s e-commerce sector is reaching new heights with the entry of deep-pocketed players like Meituan and ByteDance.

READ MORE: The Big Sell | Meituan expands in e-commerce, rivaling Alibaba and JD

Details: Taibang, a wordplay on “super great attitude” in Chinese, is a fashion and social commerce platform targeting China’s Gen-Z, a more culturally confident generation that was born and raised during China’s economic boom. 

  • With the slogan “created in China with attitude,” Taibang brings together a wide range of Chinese designer brands while helping customers to understand their brand stories. In addition, the app encourages users to communicate and share their fashion and life attitudes in an attempt to create a dynamic community.
  • The app is available for download on Chinese app stores and is currently being tested by users on an invite-only basis.
  • Alibaba also expanded investment into rural e-commerce with the launch of Fengyun and diversified its operation model by rolling out Maoxiang in February.

Context: China’s Gen-Zers, those born between 1996 and 2010, have become the new engine of China’s consumption growth. Alibaba is trying to tap into the young demographic that favors traditional culture and has a need for individual expression. 

  • This is not Alibaba’s first experiment with a “sowing grass” model. The company launched a “Zhongcao” marketing campaign on its Taobao marketplace ahead of last year’s “Singles Day” shopping festival.
  • ByteDance’s Xiaohongshu clone Lemon8 has reportedly reached one million downloads in Japan after two years of operations.
  • Meituan launched its Xiaohongshu-like pilot shopping review feature Guangguang, initially tested as Zhenxiang, in March.

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.