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How dating apps are faring amid pandemic and social distancing situations

In times of the pandemic situation and social distancing, online dating apps are becoming even more popular in people’s search for friends and potential partners. With everything getting digitised, finding a partner and building a relationship has also moved to the online space, and various dating apps are facilitating such endeavours, besides providing numerous tips, all from the safety of one’s home.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the world, the last three years have been a crucial time for the establishment of the online dating industry in India. The younger TG in the age group of 18-24, mostly living in the metro cities, has been very acting on these dating apps. The initial hesitation in trying out online dating apps is going away now and the pandemic and lockdown period has given a boost to these apps. In the past few months, dating apps have noted a steady rise in the time spent by users as well as the duration of conversations on the apps.

Since 2014, Bumble, a social networking app created by women for everyone, has facilitated over a billion women-led first moves and over 15 billion messages were sent. Whereas Happn being one of the main players has more than 95 million users around the world and more than 27 million members in India.

In India, the lockdown has lasted longer than in many countries and social distancing and work from home norms are largely in place, which has seen a growing need to maintain every kind of bond (emotional, professional, etc.) with family, friends and colleagues.

Samarpita Samaddar, PR Director, Bumble India, informed Adgully that their research indicates that “83 per cent of the Bumble community in India is interested in dating now. The study also indicated that 70 per cent of our users claim that there has been a change in their behaviour and attitude towards dating compared to before the outbreak, and 81 per cent claim that they are more open to taking the time to know their matches on a deeper level. Our data also showed that in this current environment people are spending more time having better quality chats and building meaningful connections with their matches, with 78 per cent of the community being open to trying or have tried virtual dating.”

The COVID-19 pandemic had a very strong impact on every sector, while speaking about dating apps business COVID pandemic has impacted this sector globally, but every country had different perspectives and specificities. Marine Ravinet, Head of Trends Happn, remarked, “Happn has always been about finding the people we have crossed paths with, and in India, we are seen as the dating app of real-life outdoor crossings. So, when the government advised people to stay at home and practice social distancing, we announced the extension of our crossing radius, initially of 250 mtrs around the user to 90 km, to make sure our members would be able to meet new people within the app. This way, we also participated in preserving social interactions and in helping singles to overcome isolation, loneliness and social detachment.”

The lockdown has been hard on everyone, since everyone forced to be at home for about 7 months, virtual platforms were the only place to meet and greet each other. During the lockdown period, Happn noticed a clear increase in the number of connections and above all, many more messages were sent within the app (+20%). They also noticed that 56 per cent of the users were considering video for their first dates. Whereas Bumble observed a 38 per cent increase in Bumble video calls from March to May 2020, Bumble introduced some new features such as virtual dating badge, questions game and many more during the pandemic.

Social media engagement and use has increased immensely over the lockdown period, since that was the convenient way for people connecting to near and dear ones. The increase in social media activity has been more of a benefit than a disadvantage for the dating app industry. Social media has taught the modern human that it’s possible to make genuine connections over the internet and this further empowered dating apps to keep going in their offerings and services. However there is major difference between social media and dating apps: one is used mostly to stay connected with friends, family, and acquaintances, whereas dating apps are more specific about meeting people that one feel attracted to. According to Happn, dating apps offer a much better platform for people when it comes to love and romance.

When it comes to dating apps, culture and social environment play a great role in the way differences and usages can vary from a country to another. India is a market where Happn’s users particularly enjoyed video calls during this period, compared to other markets. Sounding optimistic, Marine said, “The future seems bright as more and more people are accepting the concept of dating and the added benefit of increasing social media acceptance is proof for the same.” Samarpita remarked, “Women in India are also sending twice the number of messages on Bumble compared to women in the rest of the world.”

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