Restaurant delivery app Eleme 饿了么 released their national end-of-year numbers, shedding some light on Chinese users’ home-delivery preferences.
What people eat
The three most ordered dishes on the platform? Nation-wide, Chinese users prefer to snack on:
- Preserved egg and chicken porridge 皮蛋瘦肉粥 – 18,860,000 orders
- Spicy fried chicken burgers 香辣鸡腿堡 – 18,070,000 orders
- Hot and sour potatoes 酸辣土豆丝 – 17,620,000 orders
Late-night snacking is on a moderate rise – 9% of all Eleme orders were placed after hours, as opposed to 7% for 2016. Guangdong province in south China, where the weather stays warm year-round, places the most late-night orders.
Users also increasingly turned to Eleme for delivery of items other than hot noms. Notably, there was a sharp 14,178% jump in orders from pharmacies, and much smaller up-trends for produce (149%), grocery (110%) and fresh flowers (49%).
Why it matters
Local preferences vs. nationwide preferences
If you had to guess which dish was most commonly ordered on meal delivery apps in western countries, you might venture “french fries” – and you’d be right. The most frequently-ordered dish on Uber Eats Australia in 2017? Yup, hot chips.
But regional cuisines and flavor palates vary so heavily across China that it’s hard to predict which meals would have nationwide appeal. All three of Eleme’s top orders are widely available or are common to many regional cuisines. Egg and chicken porridge, for example, is available in most metropolitan areas, and does triple duty as a breakfast food, midnight snack and favored sick-day meal. Both Chinese and Western fast food chains stay open 24 hours and offer a fried chicken burger, and hot-and-sour potatoes are a common comfort food in northern and southern regions.
The same local vs. national concept extends to markets outside of the food service industry: user preferences may vary considerably from province to province, and provincial preferences may lean away from nationwide averages.
China’s apps are less niche-focused
Compared to western apps, which are typically hyper-focused on delivering a specific product or service, China’s apps are more likely to feature-stuff with great success, offering a suite of services under a single umbrella.