Battle of Japan's gourmet sites for survival
In preparation for a corporate event or reception, usually we need to find a suitable restaurant. Where should you go for tasty food or the ideal restaurant? Or just use Yelp or TripAdvisor to search local restaurants?
If you need to find a restaurant in Japan, you are recommended to use Japanese gourmet sites that provide the latest information on various types of restaurants. In this article, we will introduce five well-known Japanese gourmet sites, and then explain the latest trends and business models of these websites for your reference.
GURUNAVI is a long-established gourmet site that started in the 1990's. It contains the latest information which are mostly provided by the restaurants, not much real reviews from users.
HOT PEPPER provides many coupons to attract many users who are looking for good food at preferential price. In contrast, HOT PEPPER is more suitable for young people to prepare for banquets or parties, more than business purposes.
The strength of TABELOG is their rankings and real reviews from users. Their new business model probably broke the stronghold of GURUNAVI. According to an analysis of the total visits of websites, TABELOG has a share of 50% or more. (http://hiryu.hatenablog.com/entry/2016/04/14/193236).
However, it seems that TABELOG’s popularity has dropped recently. Many users are dissatisfied with their services because many advertisements have been appearing in the website. If you become a paid user, you can see rankings without any advertisements.
Compared with the decreasing popularity of TABELOG, Retty gets success in very less time and become popular. TABELOG shows reviews in an anonymous way, while Retty launched a real-name system. This difference contributes to its high popularity and high praise for its credibility of reviews. Not only users, Retty also attracts the attention of many investors. From 2012 to 2016, it has raised a total of 2.5-billion-yen investment fund.
Although Retty achieves significant growth, its future development crucially depends on what kind of monetization strategy will be adopted.
Although HITOSORA is less well-known, it gains huge support from food lovers with its unique concept of "searching restaurant by chef". Retty shows reviews with the user’s real name, but those are almost general comments. However, you can search restaurants by gourmet experts or famous chefs via HITOSARA. For this reason, most restaurants shown in HITOSARA are high class restaurants, that suitable for business purposes.
Perhaps you have noticed that the popularity of gourmet sites is directly related to their business models.
First Generation (Gourmet Site 1.0)
The business model of gourmet sites like GURUNAVI and HOT PEPPER is a kind of commercial advertising. Information shown in the site are mostly provided and paid by the restaurants, and there is no real review that users wish to know.
Second Generation (Gourmet Site 2.0)
TABELOG is committed to collecting users’ voices. We classify it to be the second generation. In certain extent, its content is also a kind of commercial advertising, but it also collects fees from users. By the way, TABELOG is operated by a well-known company called "価格(Kakaku).com ", which is popular with price rankings of home appliances and reviews.
Third Generation (Gourmet Site 3.0)
Although Retty has not yet announced its pricing model (monetization strategy), as it uses a real-name system and cooperates with social networking platform, we classify it to be a new business model. HITOSARA is also classified into the third generation because of the same real-name system.
In the near future, we would like to focus on the development of the third generation of gourmet sites, or whether the birth of fourth generation will bring a new impact to the industry.
For your reference, the following is a brief summary of various foreign language versions of gourmet sites. (as of December 5, 2016)
Gourmet site : GURUNAVI
URL : https://www.gnavi.co.jp/
Foreign Language Editions：English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, Malay
Gourmet site : HOT PEPPER
Foreign Language Editions： English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean
Gourmet site : TABELOG
URL : https://tabelog.com/
Foreign Language Editions：English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean
Gourmet site : Retty
URL : https://retty.me/
Foreign Language Editions：N/A
Gourmet site : HITO SARA
URL : http://hitosara.com/
Foreign Language Editions：English, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Korean (*Another site: https://savorjapan.com/)