A chef-on-demand offers home-cooking services at his customer's home in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, in November. (DENG XIAOWEI/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Door-to-door (DTD) services have shifted from a luxury use pattern to a routine consumption mode in China.
The booming market economy and development of the internet have made goods affordable and services, such as DTD pet feeding, cooking and massage, readily available.
Consumers, especially the younger generation, are becoming increasingly open to ordering such services, which in turn is generating new business growth points.
According to a report from market research company Kantar Worldpanel, China's DTD services market surpassed 2 trillion yuan ($283 billion) in 2021, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 64 percent between 2016 and 2021.
"Door-to-door wardrobe organizing has experienced explosive growth since 2021. Between 2021 and 2023, the number of post-1995 consumers surged by nearly 20 percent, among which many have become our regular customers for whom we offer services every quarter," said Guo Xixi, a wardrobe organizer. "Young customers spend between 10,000 yuan and 50,000 yuan on organizing wardrobes every year.
"Two years ago, our core customers were those with higher salaries. Now, demand from the middle-income group has surged."
Zhang Xinyuan, secretary-general of Co-found think tank, said, "With the help of the internet and smart devices, various services are delivered straight to consumers, offering a better user experience."
DTD services are finding applications in food delivery, housekeeping and beauty salons, he said.
"With its popularization, it is also shifting from a consumption limited to higher-income groups to a common choice," he said.
Su Yuanyuan, a post-1995 employee in Beijing, said DTD services have brought great convenience and a sense of well-being to her life.
As an internet engineer who works from 9 am to 6 pm six days a week, spending two hours in a beauty salon was a luxury for Su, until she discovered that beauty salons had started offering door-to-door services.
Su now orders DTD facial care twice a month. Although she spends 30 percent more on this compared to a beauty salon, she has started to enjoy the services. Su also often makes use of DTD housekeeping and cooking services.
"I really benefit a lot from such services. In this fast-paced society, it is such a blessing for young people," Su said.
Such services are also creating new occupations. Data from Qichacha, a company information aggregator, showed that currently there are 14,500 enterprises providing DTD services, covering food delivery, housekeeping, laundry, manicures, massages, repair and fresh food.
The popularity of the sector, however, is offset by uneven service quality, lack of qualifications and inconsistent operational standards.
Meng Lilian, chief analyst at the Sichuan Tianfu Health Industry Research Institute, said: "Industry standards should be established to ensure service quality. Meanwhile, a whole-process supervision mechanism should be set up."
An Guangyong, an expert at the Professional Committee of Credit Management of China Mergers and Acquisitions Association, said: "Enterprises should pay attention to improving workers' professional literacy and skill level, and enhancing the professionalism and differentiation of services. They should also focus on labor care, to avoid vicious competition and labor exploitation caused by excessive competition."