Influencers, social media taking on greater role in buying choices -
Workers package boxes at a Xiaohongshu warehouse in Zhengzhou, Central China's Henan province, on Aug 20, 2015. [Photo/VCG]

Social media marketing and online influencer endorsement are shaping up to be major forces in influencing purchase decisions among younger users, according to a recent report.

Around three quarters of people born after the 1990s said their decision-making toward certain products is impacted by content on online platforms, according to a report on future branding by the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade and social commerce platform Xiaohongshu.

"We see a benign cycle between online influencers, content and buyers, where the interaction can be a source of inspiration to help co-create future products," said Zhai Libo, vice-director of the council's trade promotion center. "By closely working with internet platforms like Xiaohongshu, we would love to extend such practices to traditional, business-to-business enterprises and help them capture market opportunities."

As a platform aggregating some 30 million key opinion consumers, Xiaohongshu has become a hub attracting nearly 8,000 international brands to set up official accounts to engage with customers. Some even launched global new product debuts via the site, by working with online influencers through vivid storytelling.

"By fostering a close relationship between merchants and consumers through original content marketing, we aim to become the bridge and first stop for international brands entering China," said Xiong Jian, general manager of Xiaohongshu's public policy department.

Nearly 20 influencers on Xiaohongshu conducted livestreaming sessions during the third China International Import Expo, introducing innovative products showcased at the event to a broader audience.