Everyone knows that China is an extremely gastronomic-centric culture where much time and effort is put into finding the best restaurants. For foodies in China, many turn to Dianping.com, the largest user-generated restaurant review site in China, covering more than 500,000 restaurants in over 300 cities in China. More recently, Dianping has grown into a site where consumers can share their experiences on city life in general, including night clubs, shopping, beauty, hotels, marriage and more.
Dianping was launched in 2003 by Zhang Tao to be a hybrid of Zagat, Amazon.com and Wikipedia, that mainly focused on Shanghai’s dining scene. Starting just with Shanghai, Dianping has grown into a country-wide phenomenon for both reviewers and those looking for advice.
Core users are very active on Dianping, contributing to more than 9 million total posts. The target group for Dianping are female white-collar workers between 20-40 years old. Each user has a profile page that states their location, gender and ranking on the site. Based on each member’s number of reviews and uploads, their credibility ranking can increase, allowing their reviews to be more noticeable.
Along with text reviews, users can also upload pictures of the restaurants and venues they visit, show off their list of favorite restaurants and add new friends and fans. Forums that are specific to cities, such as for Shanghai, allow users to discuss various topics.
For users who are not uploading reviews, they can browse the huge number of personal reviews and also print out coupons in the discount section to be used at the restaurants listed on Dianping.
Mobile phone capabilities are becoming a big part of the Dianping community. In an interview, the founder, Zhang Tao explains how 3G’s launch in China will help the Dianping community, “For example, if you are in a restaurant and want to share your opinion immediately, in the 3G era, you can take pictures or even make videos of the restaurant and upload them, along with your comments, to Dianping.com’s WAP site.”
Along with food, Dianping has recently launched 7 new channels (entertainment, shopping, beauty, marriage, family, kids, hotels) to appeal to a wider audience. If Dianping’s record of gathering restaurant reviews is any indication of success, the site will soon become the go-to location for any reviews related to city life in China.