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What is Dianping? How You Can Market on China’s Yelp

What is Dianping? Directly translating to “public reviews,” it is one of China’s largest lifestyle platforms, offering user-generated reviews to help people discover local businesses. Initially focused on reviews for dining places, Dianping expanded its scope to include a variety of services covering tourist attractions and hotels after its merger with Meituan.

Users rely on Dianping to explore places to eat, destinations to visit, and shows to watch in cities all around the world. They use the platform’s superior reviews and recommendations from other users for informed decision-making. While it is often compared to Yelp, Dianping offers a broader array of features for both consumers and marketers.

If you are looking to tap into Dianping’s potential to promote your business, use this Nativex guide to discover what Dianping is in detail. Further, learn how to effectively utilize this popular review and rating app to maximize your business’s visibility and engagement.

What is Dianping?

Dazhong Dianping (shortened as Dianping) is a popular review and rating app that helps users find local businesses. Established in April 2003, Dianping was one of the earliest independent third-party consumer review platforms worldwide. After its acquisition by Meituan in 2015, Dianping has undergone several revamps, and it now contributes one-third of Meituan’s total revenue.

Dianping has been deeply engaged in the local consumer market and is trusted and favored by a large user base. The platform now has a daily active user (DAU) count of 19 million, and it is widely used as a search tool for dining, entertainment, and leisure activities in addition to its review function. Nearly 60% of Dianping users are from first and second-tier cities, where consumers have stronger spending power and businesses are more inclined to promote on the platform.

As a platform focused on sharing lifestyle experiences, Dianping features a wealth of information on trendy businesses and user reviews, making it a reliable source for informed decision-making. Moreover, the platform also offers services such as business coupons, restaurant reservations, and delivery as part of its Online To Offline (O2O) transaction services.

How is Dianping different from Yelp?

Although people often refer to Yelp when introducing Dianping, Dianping was created a year earlier than Yelp. Both are online review platforms for local services, but Dianping offers a wider range of features on its platform. Let’s take a look at some of the most prominent, from pricing info to coupon savings.

Enhanced Review Features

Dianping offers a nuanced approach to reviews compared to Yelp’s star rating system. Users on Dianping are encouraged to rate businesses on specific aspects such as taste/product quality, environment, service, and cost-effectiveness. This multifaceted rating system allows for a more holistic evaluation, serving as a reliable and comprehensive guide for future customers.

Detailed Pricing Information

Dianping asks reviewers to optionally include the price per person in their reviews. The platform then aggregates these to calculate and display an average cost on the business profile page. This function allows a clearer understanding of expected expenses compared to Yelp’s general dollar sign indicator, helping users to make more informed decisions when booking a service.

Activities to Encourage Reviews

New businesses or existing businesses launching new products/services often collaborate with Dianping to offer “Free to Try” set menus. Eligible users, typically those above a certain platform level, can enter a lottery to win a chance to try these offerings for themselves. The condition for participants is to leave a review post-experience. This approach not only incentivizes consumer feedback but also helps businesses gain visibility.

Maximize Savings with Deals & Coupons

Both Yelp and Dianping feature deals and coupons, but Dianping makes it a key aspect of its user experience. Yelp users may overlook available deals or remain unaware of coupons, but Dianping integrates these deals into its platform and the business profiles, making them a central feature for attracting and retaining users.

Dianping presents a variety of coupon options that cater to diverse needs, whether one is dining alone or looking for a group set menu. This approach not only saves costs for consumers but also helps businesses and Dianping to draw and engage more consumers.

Who are Dianping’s users?

It’s possible to group Dianping’s vast userbase into three broad categories:

  • Active Users and KOLs: These users constantly look for new shops and are eager to try new things. They frequently share their experiences on the platform and often try new places based on other users’ reviews. Their reviews serve as a guide for others, while they are also influenced by other KOLs in the community. These users see Dianping as a social media platform in addition to its rating and review function.

  • Lifestyle Enthusiasts: These users focus more on discounts and offers available on Dianping. They use Dianping as a channel to enjoy a quality lifestyle at less cost.

  • General Users: These users typically browse Dianping for information on lifestyle, discounts, and newly opened shops to figure out what to eat or where to go. For them, Dianping serves more as a guide for decision-making.

How Can Marketers Make the Most of Dianping?

Promoting a business requires a unique approach compared to traditional social media marketing. Users often visit Dianping with a specific intent, such as exploring dining options, finding weekend activities, or booking hotels, rather than the general content browsing on social media.

This user behavior aligns more closely with e-commerce shopping, where purchasing decisions are influenced by user reviews. Marketers looking to leverage Dianping’s platform should consider the following strategies:

Optimized Listings

On the top of Dianping’s homepage, there are various categories such as food, travel, and beauty. Securing a top position in these listings is vital for marketers, as users tend to focus on the top results. The platform tailors these listings based on individual user behavior, including searches, bookmarks, and past purchases.

Dianping also allows for paid advertising slots through “TuiGuangTong”, the official advertising platform developed by Meituan.

Homepage Exposure

Similar to social media feeds, content on Dianping’s homepage is displayed in images and videos and tailored to user interest. While the homepage offers fewer advertising slots compared to the Listings, these contents still receive significant exposure as users freely browse through and click on the ones that interest them.

Search Optimization

Consumers would use the search box to find specific products, services, or businesses. Dianping categorizes search results into different tabs, such as overall, businesses, content, and coupons, but users can also filter the results by distance, popularity, ratings, and price.

In general, users would read through the automated overall ranking since it provides a comprehensive reference from multiple aspects. For businesses, achieving a favorable ranking requires attention to various factors, including popularity, ambiance, service quality, and customer reviews.

Leveraging Free Trials

Dianping’s “Free Trials” invites active members to participate in the lottery to try products or services for free. In return, these users are required to write a review on the product, service, and their experience. While this doesn’t guarantee improved ratings, it helps the business to enhance visibility and enrich the review section. Participating businesses should thoughtfully design their trial offerings, balancing cost and showcasing standout features.

Targeting Must-Try Lists

These lists, including “Must-Eat,” “Must-Visit,” and “Must-Stay,” are curated based on comprehensive data and user reviews, providing users with quick and reliable recommendations. Featuring on these lists can significantly enhance a business’s profile. To make it into the Must Try List and to improve rankings, businesses must align with user preferences and consistently deliver high-quality service, avoiding any manipulative or unethical tactics.

If you’re considering leveraging Dianping’s platform for your app marketing, Nativex is your ideal partner to help you scale. With our deep understanding of the local market and expert insights, we can help your brand to succeed. Reach out to us to elevate your brand’s presence on Dianping, and on many other social media sites around the globe.

Want to learn more about China’s app ecosystem? Look no further than our series “What is” series on Xiaohongshu, WeChat, Weibo, and Douyin. You can also keep your eye on the blog for new content as it’s released. Follow us on LinkedIn if you prefer your news on social, too.

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