The debut of its sibling app, KeeTa, in Hong Kong marks Meituan’s first venture outside of the Chinese mainland. Analysts are still dubious about the app’s ability to swiftly take a significant market share in the area, however.
Concerned about Meituan’s development ambitions, Shawn Yang, managing director of Blue Lotus Research Institute, cited the relatively limited market size as a factor that would deter the firm from devoting considerable resources. Following a successful debut on May 22 in two residential areas—Mong Kok and Tai Kok Tsui—KeeTa was subsequently extended to the Sham Shui Po and Yau Tsim Mong districts.
Meituan, which now controls about 70% of the mainland Chinese food delivery business, plans to completely encircle the Hong Kong market by the end of the year. However, other analysts, like Kai Wang from Morningstar Asia, think that Meituan’s profitability won’t be significantly impacted by the company’s expansion into Hong Kong. The anticipated 7 million prospective users in Hong Kong may not have a significant impact on the company’s income given that China currently has over 678 million users.
Meituan views Hong Kong as a proving ground for possible global development while facing tough competition from new competitors like Douyin, the sibling app of TikTok, inside China. Due to the city’s significant concentration of eating and drinking facilities, Hong Kong’s food delivery sector, which is now dominated by Foodpanda and Deliveroo, has a lower penetration rate than that of mainland China.
In contrast to the average use of 21% in China two years ago, just 10% of Hong Kong’s restaurant business presently uses meal delivery services, according to a survey by the research company Momentum Works. With competitive advantages including free vouchers, set meals at reasonable pricing, and a “on-time promise” strategy that rewards consumers for late orders, KeeTa seeks to overthrow Foodpanda and Deliveroo’s monopoly on the market.
The investigation into Deliveroo and Foodpanda’s anti-competitive behavior in Hong Kong may provide a chance for smaller businesses like KeeTa to acquire market share. It is against the law for delivery service providers in Hong Kong to use tactics that limit restaurants or punish them for only working with other platforms.
Industry participants like Foodpanda underline the need of developing strong client stickiness in order to generate consumer loyalty over the long term. Although KeeTa’s debut demonstrates the Hong Kong food delivery business’s latent development potential, the market has only had modest growth rates during the pandemic.
Despite the difficulties, KeeTa can use Meituan’s knowledge of China to successfully navigate the Hong Kong market. The app may provide a serious threat to the incumbents, Foodpanda and Deliveroo, as long as Meituan maintains steadfast leadership, makes the proper hiring decisions, and effectively manages its internal structure.