China’s lifestyle-sharing platform and consumer recommendation hub Xiaohongshu has just made a big step forward in its bid to become a dominant player in China’s lucrative local life services sector.
When entering the Xiaohongshu app, users will now immediately see “Nearby” alongside the “Follow” and “Explore” tabs in the top banner on the homepage. Clicking on Nearby sends the user to an interactive map displaying notes, group chats, and livestreams related to food, drink, and entertainment in the local area.
Previously, “Nearby” was only available as a search filter. For example, if a user types a particular store’s name into the search bar, and then selects the Nearby filter, the results will show posts related to that business specifically by authors situated within a given distance to the user.
The interactive map, by contrast, unlocks a new level of online-offline integration, and could eventually enable users to book a whole host of services directly through the Xiaohongshu app.
Local life services connect users to businesses in their local area, whether through on-demand delivery of locally stocked products or through recommendations of dining, entertainment, or even healthcare options available in the surrounding area. The sector is expected to be worth 35 trillion RMB (4.9 trillion USD) by 2025 and at a penetration rate of only 12.7% in 2021, it has huge potential to grow even further.
Food delivery app Meituan currently dominates the sector, but Xiaohongshu has been making clear inroads recently, including introducing a group buying function with the support of participating merchants in 2023. In order to emerge as a serious contender in local life services, Xiaohongshu will need to encourage users to make transactions within the app.