Dazhong Dianping is today the most essential platform of all Chinese. Yet it remains relatively unknown to expatriates and foreign entrepreneurs. So what is exactly Dianping?
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What is Dianping?
From its full name Dazhong Dianping or大众点评, it can literally be translated as “public opinion” or “people’s review”. As the name suggests, this website allows all its members to be able to advise on a wide range of services, which includes all existing physical stores. So it includes cinemas, spa, karaoke, hotels, etc. However, the website put a highlight on hospitality, which was always its favorite market.
Founded in 2003, the platform has rapidly enjoyed success among Chinese and has become number one in its genre, above Yelp and Tripadvisor.
What causes its success?
In Q3 2014, Dianping, the platform had more than 170 million active users in over 42 million posted reviews. So where does this success come from? In a purely cultural analysis, this can be explained by the fact that China and the Western country differ in terms of behavior towards a review website. While most Europeans will tend to spend more time on reading reviews on such website, the Chinese will feel more involved in writing and sharing it. The emergence of social platforms in the country has allowed these young adults to open up more easily, while the one-child policy had made an entire generation shyer compared to the previous generation.
Other factors also played for Dianping through an innovative model based on four categories: the relationship between the consumer and the information, the SNS (Social Networking Service), the products and the services. With a system connected to multiple communication channels, Dianping replicates its information on several platforms at the same time when a user updates a review.
Even better, the month of February 2014 was a real turning point in the development of the brand through its integration to Tencent Group. Now a WeChat account can be linked to a Dianping account and when the person writes a review, it will be published on WeChat after right after permission.
Today Dianping allows its members to review shops and services of hundreds of cities all over China, and more surprisingly, even cities abroad as Paris or New York, even place like Brno, a village in the Czech Republic.
How to use Dianping as a promotional tool?
In a B2B context, Dianping offers professionals a list of features to unlock by becoming a premium member. While a small part is available for free to restaurants or other entrepreneurs, like the creation of a dedicated page of the business with limited pictures, the subscription provides a huge advantage in terms of interaction thanks to its millions of users.
In fact, Dianping gathers a few concepts that have managed to stand out from others, which include Groupon, Tripadvisor, Foursquare. The coupons have become indeed the first sales force for the Chinese platform and they also represent the most used services by its users. Just 5 minutes on dianping.com and you can realize how coupons are popular. You will see that there are probably a dozen restaurants around you that practice this promotion.
After becoming a VIP on Dianping, you will also have the opportunity to publish your menu (if you own a restaurant) and more interestingly, add a delivery service operated entirely by the website in exchange for a fixed commission. No more staff problems, late delivery or stolen scooter, Dianping takes care of everything. The delivery system will be directly installed on your POS terminal, and it only awaits you to prepare the order.
On the consumer side, the order can be done directly from the mobile phone through the integration of WeChat system in Dianping. With Tencent now, the platform deploys a mobile phone strategy. Among other new mobile features thanks to Tencent, you can notice features such as digital loyalty card (originally present on WeChat), buying promotional coupons directly from the mobile phone, geolocation to refine customer’s researches according to his location.
Dianping is a very informative, social and promotional platform. The Chinese website becomes a promotional tool of choice for your restaurant or your B2C business with features that can help you boost your sales or business’ frequency. I see only one issue, the high cost of subscribing to the premium package and therefore its return on investment.