Meituan, the world’s largest food delivery service, is poised to expand beyond mainland China with the launch of its sister app in Hong Kong. The internet company announced the introduction of its “KeeTa” meal delivery service, which will initially cater to the Mong Kok neighborhood. Meituan, based in Beijing, aims to venture beyond its dominant position in the Chinese market and compete with international players like Deliveroo and Foodpanda, owned by Delivery Hero. This move comes as Chinese tech giants seek opportunities abroad amidst an uncertain post-pandemic recovery and the regulatory crackdown on the domestic internet sector.
While it remains uncertain whether KeeTa will expand beyond Hong Kong, Meituan is likely to extend its coverage within the affluent city if the initial operations prove successful. The company has already made its app available on the Hong Kong iOS store, inviting prospective riders to apply. Meituan is also actively recruiting foot and bicycle couriers to accommodate the city’s high population density. Although Meituan has not officially announced international expansion plans, its upcoming earnings report next Thursday may shed more light on its future direction. Meituan’s shares remained relatively stable in Hong Kong on Thursday.
In preparation for its entry into Hong Kong, Meituan has been engaging in extensive hiring efforts, following its well-established strategy of providing subsidies to attract both users and delivery personnel. The company conducted information sessions in March, specifically targeting potential delivery drivers, many of whom are already associated with Deliveroo or Foodpanda. Additionally, Meituan established a 24/7 courier hub in Mong Kok to support its riders. While companies in Silicon Valley are cutting costs and downsizing, Meituan has been actively recruiting, planning to hire 10,000 employees in mainland China this year to fend off intensified competition, particularly from ByteDance.
Meituan’s approach of launching a distinct brand in Hong Kong, represented by the KeeTa app, follows a similar trend seen among other companies like ByteDance and PDD Holdings. Such branding decisions reflect the need to cater to diverse marketing and operational requirements in different markets.