Chinese short video and livestreaming platform Kuaishou recently unveiled its WeChat mini program to enter the local services sector, pitching itself against the likes of Meituan and Ele.me, 36Kr reported on Tuesday.
The mini program, named Chihe Wanle Zai Kuaishou, which roughly translates as “Fun Times on Kuaishou,” sells meal deals and coupons that WeChat users can redeem in restaurants in Changsha, Harbin, and Shenzhen. Users can, for example, purchase a two-person barbecue buffet for RMB 158 (USD 25) or for RMB 98 (USD 15) if they can find three other people for a bundled order.
Kuaishou aims to leverage WeChat to encourage its users to become more active, Zhang Yi, the chief of market research firm iiMedia, told KrASIA.
“There is still a ways to go for Kuaishou to shake up the established market dominated by Meituan and Ele.me,” he said. Both platforms serve consumers very well with their one-stop on-demand services. The same consumers haven’t yet developed the habit to look on WeChat for dining and entertainment options, Zhang added. He stated that Kuaishou is offering local service providers different marketing channels and can hence become complementary to Meituan and Ele.me.
Kuaishou has been incentivizing users to create, share, and tag videos when they are out dining or at events. When contacted by KrASIA, Kuaishou said that it hosts more than 30,000 vendors in sectors including dining, tourism, medical care, and film. One of its livestreamers, who goes by the name of Yu Dagongzi (“Grand Prince Yu”), sold 3,000 hotpot coupons for restaurants in more than 200 cities in just five minutes. Singer and actor Jay Chou hosted a livestreaming session in January to present his co-produced film Chicha Fengyun, selling 10,000 coupons for heavily discounted movie tickets in three minutes.
Kuaishou is not the only short video and livestreaming platform eyeing the local services sector. Rival Douyin piloted local services in select cities last year, allocating 10,000 employees to this market. The ByteDance unit now offers meal deals and hotel stays in over 300 cities in China.
As the pressure from new competitors rises, Meituan is burning cash to expand into community group-buying for groceries, where it competes with companies such as JD.com, Pinduoduo, and Didi Chuxing. The move has drawn scrutiny from authorities that are clamping down on what they frame as practices that are detrimental to existing businesses.
The State Administration for Market Regulation initiated an antitrust investigation into the company in April, alleging that it forces merchants to cut connections with rival marketplaces by invoking the so-called “choose one out of two” mechanism. Meituan’s food delivery business model, which heavily relies on outsourced riders, has come under scrutiny when an undercover government official joined its fleet on a 12-hour shift to earn a mere RMB 41 (USD 6). When state media covered the incident, Meituan said it would improve compensation and benefits for its riders, which raised concerns about the company’s profitability.