Food delivery giant Meituan has shown its ability to defend its moat advantage in local services amid a challenge from ByteDance-owned TikTok sibling Douyin, with the company achieving RMB 2 billion single-month livestreaming sales this October, up from the less than RMB 600 million recorded in July when it officially introduced its in-app livestream feature, local media outlet 36Kr cited multiple sources as saying in a Monday report.
Why it matters: Meituan, a newcomer to the livestreaming domain, is employing a high-subsidy strategy within livestream rooms to attract both customers and merchants. Despite the strong growth momentum indicated by sales figures, the company’s profit margin has seen a decline for two consecutive quarters.
Details: Livestreams conducted by Meituan itself are the main focus of the newly launched function, where hosts are sourced from external multi-channel network (MCN) companies and generate more than 70% of live gross merchandise volume (GMV), according to the 36Kr report. However, this balance is shifting as small- and medium-sized merchants flow in to sell vouchers via independent livestreams.
- Around 30% to 40% of orders paid for on livestreams are ultimately verified at physical stores and converted into the shop’s sales, one source was cited as saying in the report. Another source, a Meituan service provider, claimed that the overall verification rate is about 60%, nearly double that of Douyin.
- Shen Quan Jie and Shen Qiang Shou are two major official livestream brands within Meituan’s food delivery segment, selling discounted takeout coupons, especially for well-known or chain restaurants. The former is a monthly promotional event occurring on the 18th of each month, while the latter livestreams for 12 hours every day, primarily targeting users in China’s first-tier cities.
- Meituan’s Hong Kong-traded shares have slumped over 50% this year, and the company’s stock experienced its largest single-day decline in over a year last Tuesday after executives warned of a slowdown in revenue growth for its core food delivery business in the fourth quarter.
Context: Meituan has increased its marketing expenses this year in an attempt to resist TikTok sister app Douyin’s push into the local life services sector, spending RMB 16.9 billion in the last quarter, a 62.5% increase from the first quarter. Meanwhile, the operating margin of its core local business has continued to decline over the last two quarters, dropping below 20% in the three months from July to September to 17.5%.
- Short video app Douyin first took a step into the local services space with food delivery trials two years ago. It has now expanded its reach to include everything from sightseeing tickets and leisure events to parent-child activities. Local media outlet LatePost previously reported that these services generated over RMB 100 billion in sales for Douyin in the first half of 2023.
Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.
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