Meituan, a Chinese life services and food delivery platform, is testing a social feature for food-ordering users, Chinese media Tech Planet reported (in Chinese) Thursday.

Why it matters: The social feature is part of Meituan’s effort to find new growth areas. The move comes as the food delivery sector becomes more crowded—social media giant ByteDance has been reportedly testing a food delivery feature through its short-video app Douyin since last month.

Details: Named “Fanxiaoquan,” the new feature allows users to share orders with their contacts on the Meituan app, in a format that is similar to WeChat’s Moments or Facebook’s News Feed. 

  • Users can comment and like posts, access merchants’ shops through posts, and place similar orders.
  • Users can add friends either through WeChat contacts or phone contacts. The platform also recommends new contacts based on users’ past behavior on the Meituan app, such as the mobile games they have played. 

Context: After years of fast growth, China’s food delivery industry is now growing at a slower pace. The market expanded 15% yearly in 2020, the slowest growth in the past decade, according to market consultancy Zhiyan (in Chinese). 

  • Meituan hit a record in the number of transacting users and active merchants using its flagship app in the first quarter of the year, 569.3 million and 7.1 million, respectively, according to its financial statement. The growth is partly driven by the company’s popularity in lower-tier Chinese cities. 
  • Meituan is seeking new growth areas in recent months by introducing social and content features, including a Pinduoduo-like group buying feature in its Meituan-Dianping unit and a short video feature in its flagship app.

Zhanhang Ye

Zhanhang Ye is a Shanghai-based reporting intern for Technode, covering the content and entertainment industry. Reach out to him at 295227325@qq.com.