Fast Company recently published its annual ranking of the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies in 2019, and the crown went to Meituan Dianping, an online-to-offline local life service app platform that connects hundreds and millions of local businesses with consumers.
First launched in 2010 by Wang Xing as a group-discount website which sells vouchers from merchants for deals (think Groupon), Meituan Dianping has now expanded to offer anything from travel booking, movie ticketing, and bike sharing. In 2015, after its merger with Dianping (Yelp and Tripadvisor wrapped in one), Meituan Dianping officially became what is known as a “transactional super app”, where virtually any consumer transaction can now take place on the platform.
Truth: The Anatomy of a Super App
In the West, a user would have several apps to fulfill his or her needs - an app for the news, another for restaurant reviews, and perhaps a few options for ordering food. But in China, a super-app like Meituan Dianping provides all of those services in one single platform. Super-apps in China is “super” because it provides an all-encompassing mobile experience where users can seamlessly move from one service to another without ever switching between apps.
In addition, Meituan is also one of the best in the game of providing O2O services - systems to entice consumers within a digital environment to purchase goods and services from physical businesses. Its most successful arm, the food delivery app Meituan Waimai, delivers over 10 million meals daily. Every month, more than 57 million active users browse on the app and choose to purchase products and services from more than 5.5 million merchants with physical businesses. Interestingly, 55.6 percent of the companies offering services on Meituan were exclusive to that platform, compared to only 18.6 percent for direct competitor Ele.me.
All in all, the combination of convenience and versatility of the app is so appealing that many users automatically find themselves revisiting the app multiple times a day, until it finally becomes an integral part of their daily lives.
Vision: Live Better with Meituan Dianping
Facilitating over 27.7 billion transactions for more than 350 million people across 2,800 cities, Meituan Dianping has already changed the lifestyles of many in China. But Wang is setting his sights for more.
The company is continually improving itself to become, if not already, an irreplaceable tool that people can’t live without. For example, to tackle the restriction of using human labor to deliver meals, the company has been investing heavily in IoT (Internet of Things) technology, including its recent unveiling of smart delivery vehicles and aircrafts that can sense traffic situations and send instructions to elevators in order to more efficiently deliver meals to buyers’ homes. In the future, Meituan Dianping will become an omnipresent technology impossible to be rendered obsolete.
Behind all of this ambition, consumer welfare has always been an integral part of the company’s vision. Linking back to Meituan Dianping’s goal to promote a “Eat Better, Live Better” lifestyle, the continued investment in its technology will continue to bring even more convenience and value to Chinese citizens.
Universe: Comfort Food at Home
Very often, the first thing that comes to mind when people hear about Meituan is its food delivery. With 30.4 million total users, more than⅓ of active users are aged between 25-29 years old. This is indication that most people who order meals on Meituan are young working professionals.
Meituan Dianping can often be associated with the delivery of comfort food - the idea that food can provide a nostalgic or sentimental value to an individual. Consumers in this group feel easily exhausted after a typical work day. Having a satisfying meal without going through the hassle of cooking is what they look forward to at the end of a typical day. With Meituan’s endless food options and efficient delivery, whatever they’re craving for the entire day can easily be satisfied.
Personality: The Handy Assistant
Meituan Dianping is the handy assistant who is always there for you to serve your needs. Hungry? A delicious meal gets delivered to your door. Looking to go somewhere but can’t hail a cab? Find a Meituan Bike parked in front of your residence (it recently acquired Mobike for $2.7 billion). Looking to plan a romantic dinner for your partner? Check out the reviews over at Dianping and book your table in one-go. This persona applies also for local businesses, who relies on the company’s surfeit of data to help them identity unfulfilled gaps in the market and opportunities for expansion.
The signature kangaroo mascot featured in Meituan Waimai’s logo is perhaps the best manifestation of this persona of the handy personal assistant. With its large Kangaroo pouch, it’s able to carry a lot of items. And as kangaroos are known for their speedy hops, Meituan Waimai delivers meals to your doorstep within an hour. Together, the company aims to fulfill your needs in the most convenient and efficient way possible.
It’s easy to think about innovation in terms of tangibles, something you can touch and hold. But innovation in today’s age seems to be about redefining the medium or channel of exchange.
The ability to merge dozens of services into one centralized platform, Meituan Dianping is able to provide a seamless and effortless mobile experience for its users, and the most innovative company in the world has been deft at capitalizing on this to offer superior usage experience for consumers and thus gain market share.
With its enormous reach and relevance to the daily lives of millions of Chinese citizens, Meituan Dianping is a one-stop super app at core, but portrays itself as the handy personal assistant whom many find it difficult to live without.