Tech Trends: Learning from Dating Apps
Since 2014, there have been more singles than married adults in the U.S. A survey conducted in April 2020 found that 6% of American adults were currently on a dating app while 21% had previously used one. The online dating industry is expected to grow from $6.4b in 2017 to $9.2b in 2025
There are currently four significant players in this market. Match Group is the biggest: it owns Match.com, Plenty of Fish, Tinder, and Hinge. In 2019, it brought in over $2b in revenue. The other major companies in the market include Meet Group (owner of MeetMe), Magic Lab (owner of Bumble), and Spark (owner of Christian Mingle and Elite Singles).
Just as the pornography industry precipitated numerous technological revolutions, including the move to VHS, the internet's adoption, and the advent of closed captioning, the dating industry is predicting a future trend in specialization.
Since the launch of Match.com, competitors have tried to use unique specializations to capture their target market. This includes wealth (The League, Elite Singles), Religion (Christian Mingle), Sexual Orientation (Grindr), and Profession (Farmers Only).
Looking past the current trend of specialization, we see three more directions this industry could turn:
1. Data-based matching has tremendous potential to limit the time spent looking for a match. Two primary sources exist for this data. First, data can either be collected from sources such as Facebook, Apple, or Google, who can match individuals based on several factors including age, location, interests, sleeping patterns, ambitions, personality, profession, or a combination of these factors. Second, the data can come from companies such as 23andMe using genetic information to make biological matches.
2. Due to the pandemic, we have seen a rise in the offering of virtual or remote dating. As we progress past the pandemic, these resources could be adapted to create new "intermediary" services between matchmaking and dating. This could include video dates, online games, or virtual events that you could attend with your match. Such offerings would provide a safe and comfortable environment to learn more about your potential partner before needing to meet in person.
3. The intersection of digital and reality is an emerging space. Services such as Match Dining offer you and your date an opportunity to get a discount at selected venues if you meet through their service. This is a tremendous opportunity for dating apps to branch out from just matchmaking to profiting from the costly dating process itself.
The dating industry could continue to pave the path for technological advances. These trends are likely to be replicable in your niche. Netflix and other streaming services could move into offering a physical benefit, including discounted popcorn delivery to companies. Already, in numerous industries, increasing data collection and analysis to improve their services. If you see a gap in your industry, one of these strategies may be able to help you fill it.