However, as the country’s food delivery industry begins to wind down, the market is becoming more consolidated with a few leading players controlling a dominant share, with an expected worth of 165.29 billion RMB ($24.71 billion USD) in 2016, according to analytics institute iiMedia Research.
Ele.me, Meituan Waimai and Baidu Waimai, three leading companies of China’s food delivery industry, represent 37.5%, 30.5% and 15.0% respectively of the total market as of May this year, the report pointed out.
As one of the earliest entrants, Ele.me is still the largest player in the industry, but its advantage over Meituan Waimai and Baidu Waimai is narrowing. According to data from Quest Mobile, Ele.me’s monthly active users climbed 124% to 17.46 million in May this year, a slower growth rate compared to Baidu Waimai’s 531% (16.62 million MAU in total) and Meituan Waimai’s 293% (14.94 million MAU in total).
Although the services the three companies provide are quite similar, they do have differences in the target clients and markets.
In terms of regional distribution, Quest Mobile’s data shows Baidu Waimai and Ele.me take the lead in first and second-tier city coverage respectively, while Meituan Waimai has a stronger presence in third and fourth-tier cities.
The white collar market is the competitive focus of all companies thanks to higher purchase frequency, user loyalty and price per order. Ele.me and Baidu Waimai are similar in terms of white-collar user coverage. Meituan’s user demographic leans more toward grassroots consumers.
The three companies take a combined 83% of the market. A wide range of quirky food delivery options emerged like home style cuisine (Home Cook), chef on-demand services (Haochushi, Jinshisong, Idachu) and food delivery services that focus on a special food ingredient (Call A Duck, Call A Chicken).