Meituan is testing Zhenxiang, a shopping review feature similar to the one used by lifestyle community platform Xiaohongshu, as the Chinese food delivery and local services giant aims to boost its e-commerce business.

Why it matters: Meituan, known as the “Amazon of services” in China, is testing the feature for its physical goods e-commerce service, while fending off competition from rivals like ByteDance and Alipay in the area of local lifestyle business.

READ MORE: ByteDance is trying to take a bite of Meituan’s cake

Details: Zhenxiang, a shopping review community, is being tested among a group of users, most of whom have already used its e-commerce service Tuanhaohuo.

  • The feature is now displayed in the most prominent part of Meituan’s e-commerce interface for pilot users. It was launched in December but was initially only accessible through less conspicuous entry points.
  • Zhenxiang allows users to post product evaluations and tips in the form of notes, photos, and short videos for other potential buyers’ reference. Users can also rate products with a five star system, from “bad shopping experience” to “highly recommended.”
  • A Meituan spokeswoman confirmed that the company is working on the pilot project, adding that it’s just one of its usual range of experiments aimed at testing new features.
  • By integrating the product review feature into the app, Meituan could drive its e-commerce sales under the Zhongcao model, a marketing strategy that was first popularized by Xiaohongshu, local media Lu Lu Finance explained.
  • The term Zhongcao (“planting grass”) refers to the idea that favorable and comprehensive reviews of a product can sow the seeds of an urge to buy in consumers. The actual action of purchase is referred to as Bacao (“pulling up grass”) in Chinese. 

Context: Content has emerged as the driver of Chinese e-commerce over the past three years. Chinese tech platforms like Taobao, short video apps Douyin and Kuaishou, and China’s Quora-like site Zhihu have also leveraged the Zhongcao model to boost e-commerce growth.

  • Meituan has begun testing an expansion into the sale of physical goods online, entering into partnerships with consumer electronics companies, cosmetics brands, garment brands, and physical bookstores in order to diversify the physical product offerings on the platform.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.