Lemon8 is on the rise: Should your brand be paying attention?

By now, you have probably heard about Lemon8, the newest app from TikTok's parent company. Although the app was released in 2020, it has recently climbed the app charts in the past few weeks. ByteDance's motive behind this sudden surge remains a subject of debate. However, regardless of the reason, the question remains: should your brand be ready to jump on board and participate?

First, let us understand the app's background. Lemon8 was initially designed to compete with China's large lifestyle app, Xiaohongshu, or Little Red Book in English. Due to high market saturation in China, ByteBance quickly pivoted the app towards the Japanese and Indonesian markets. Both Lemon8 and Xiaohongshu are meant to help consumers discover new products and international brands. Lemon8 features product tagging capabilities and caption templates with brand names and prices to encourage users to share their favorite finds.

While these features sound like a brand's social commerce dream, most brands should wait to see how things play out. We do not have a good understanding of the platform's audience or influence for it to be worth a brand's time or resources yet. Additionally, the app is limited to a few topics like fashion, healthy food, and wellness. For non-endemic brands, there is likely little potential at the moment. However, with any new app, there is always an opportunity to be had for the right brand.

For endemic brands, here are a few characteristics that should prompt you to take a closer look at what Lemon8 is up to:

  • Industry: fashion, healthy lifestyle, or makeup

  • Company size: small to midsize (or you have an extremely nimble social media team)

  • Audience: Gen-Z, younger Millennials, early adopters, social media fanatics

  • Current marketing strategy: influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, TikTok

If your brand fits these criteria, start exploring Lemon8 as a consumer to understand the platform and its content. From there, start experimenting with different content and post types to get familiar with its algorithm. If you see some traction, try driving traffic to your profile through other social media platforms, letting your consumers know you are on Lemon8. To compensate for the lack of commerce capabilities, post pictures of limited-time promo codes or exclusive offerings to get loyal consumers excited to engage with your brand's content.

Long-term, I suspect that Gen-Z will not be drawn to the curated, brand-oriented style posts enough to stay. We know that Western markets often do not respond to apps the same way Asian markets do, i.e., livestreaming, chat commerce, and super apps. Currently, most of the positive reviews are coming from influencers paid to join the app. Being an early adopter may not do your brand any favors until there are paid media opportunities and the app has fully formulated its identity. Hold tight, and we will keep watching to see what happens.