Digital business and smartphones have revolutionized the way individuals form relationships with new people, especially when it comes to the world of dating. Because of this, the classic romantic encounter consumers see in the movies is becoming a thing from the past, mainly due to the variety of dating apps and platforms created in the past decade. When thinking back to my favorite movies and stories of how romances begin, I think of this classic scene:
A women walks into a restaurant with her friends, while a man stands with a group of people at the bar. Each orders a drink. As they look down the bar, the man to his right and the women to her left, their eyes meet. They look away, but continue to flirt with small glances throughout the night. Finally, he gets the courage to walk over and introduce himself. The two talk for hours about anything and everything. Finally, as the night is about to end, they exchange numbers. The rest is history.
Growing up, parents tell the romantic story of how they met to their children. However, due to the rise in dating app usage, these stories may become a tale of the past sooner than we expected. Studies show that in today’s society, about 90% of single U.S. adults have used some type of online dating site or mobile app. In the last year, 20% of adults met their significant others using an online platform. Similarly, 17% of couples who were married in the last year met on a dating site. As these numbers begin to rise, especially as more platforms come out, romantic stories will become a thing of the past.
As the trend of online dating continues, brands must be sure to promote themselves to their specific target audience. There are three main categories in the dating app world that brands fall under. The first type of site is geared towards older, more mature, serious relationship seekers. For example, OkCupid, Match.com, and EHarmony fall into this group. These platforms focus on consumers who are searching for a partner in life. They concentrate on an older demographic because they assume these individuals are looking for a serious relationship. In commercials, they usually use success stories of older couples who are now happily married. Overall, these platforms were some of the first in existence and most successful to date.
The second category platforms fall under is focused on hookup culture, especially among the younger generations. Apps such as Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and Coffee Meets Bagel are all platforms that target millennials. Specifically, they target consumers who are more focused on having a good time and less on finding their soulmate. To go along with this specific demographic, the platforms are all about saving time. Consumers are given small bits of information to decide if they connect with others on the site. Finally, these platforms do not allow an interaction between two customers unless they both indicate they wish to be connected. Again, these apps are focused on providing individuals the opportunity to see numerous people in seconds.
The final category of dating sites is Niche apps. These focus on hyper-specific markets that consumers wish to explore. Platforms like JDate, Christian Mingle, Trek Passions and Veggiemate are all part of this category. Each site has its own specific target audience based on one or more shared interests. Studies showed that 64% of single U.S. adults said that common interests are the most important factor when finding a partner. Niche platforms help consumer find others with the same specific interests as them. For example, if a consumer loved Star Trek and wanted to find a significant other who also shares this love, they could sign up on Trek Passion and meet thousands of others who also love this franchise. Veggiemate, on the other hand, helps consumers meet individuals who share similar eating habits. The list of Niche platforms is by far the largest of the three categories and helps consumers find exactly what they’re looking for.
Overall, each of these different categories helps target a sub segment of the total online dating market. Before dating apps, consumers spent days, or even weeks, getting to know a potential partner, only to find out that they don’t have much in common. Apps, like the ones mentioned above, help these individuals save time, get to know numerous people in a fraction of the time, and hopefully, find what they’ve been searching for. It will be interesting to observe how hyper-selective dating apps will affect marital success, given the decline in long-lasting relationships.