#TwitterChat: How the pandemic period has spurred the dating ecosystem

Social distancing during the pandemic and lockdown period failed to dampen the social spirit of the people, as is evident from the use of social media platforms as well as the growth of dating and matrimony apps. The difficult time didn’t stop people from getting married, albeit shunning the usual big fat Indian weddings.

Dating and matchmaking as a concept has evolved tremendously in India. The growing digitisation in India and growth of technology has only facilitated people’s need for companionship. While the concept of online dating has been prevalent in the West for some time now, Indians are fast adopting this way of connecting with people, and the lockdown period has exacerbated this phenomenon.

The online dating industry in India is worth ₹2,934 crore and the country is only behind the US and China. The matchmaking industry, however, is much older than the new age dating apps. Estimated at ₹1,917 crore, the matchmaking players have grown tremendously in terms of users.

In 2020, the entire digital ecosystem saw tremendous disruption and growth. Dating & Matrimony websites made the most of people being restricted to their homes and increased their drive to acquire new users. Social distancing and the lockdown resulted in the need to meet new people in newer ways in the new normal. This ecosystem also saw trends like “lockdown buddies” and the players in the market evolved with the needs of the consumers.

As we move into 2021, it had become important to turn the focus on this ecosystem. What were the challenges and opportunities that this market faced in 2020? In which markets within India have these apps seen the most traction? The profile of the TG using these apps, as well as strengthening the safety and trust factor, and what does 2021 look like for this ecosystem?

Addressing the various facets of the dating ecosystem, Adgully’s much appreciated property, #TwitterChat, put the spotlight on ‘Are Dating and Matrimony Apps Changing The Way We Meet People?’

Joining in the discussions were:

Shreya Shively, Chief Revenue Officer at TTT (@shreyashively)

Ravi Mittal, Founder & CEO of QuackQuack (@ravemittal)

Anukool Kumar, Marketing Director, OkCupid (@okcupidIndia)

Rajasekar KS, GM - Marketing at Matrimony.com (@rajasekarks_)

Arnab Mitra, Managing Director, LIQVD ASIA (@aurnobmitro)

The conversation began by focussing on the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rajasekar KS spoke about the challenges faced by Matrimony.com and also spoke about how after an initial slow start, the pandemic allowed more time to the user to find a suitable life partner. In his tweet, Rajasekar said, “The pandemic was a challenge initially, but soon it opened up new opportunities for online matrimony services like BharatMatrimony. Digital adoption was faster than ever before. There was a 30% increase in registrations as singles found time to plan their life.”

He further added, “Work From Home (WFH) gave them a window to collaborate with family on finding a life partner. As they were not able to meet matches – our solution was the launch of free video calling. We turned the lack of opportunity for Big Fat Indian weddings to launch HomeWeddings by MatrimonyBazaar.”

Anukool Kumar spoke about how dating apps grew in relevance during the lockdown as people were restricted to homes. Speaking about OkCupid, he highlighted how the dating app focused on compatibility to help users find love and how the platform saw many successful love stories during the pandemic. In his tweet, Kumar said, “85% of users on OkCupid believe it is important to develop an emotional connection before a physical one, so the switch to virtual dates has allowed these emotional connections to thrive.” For Kumar, the foremost learning was, “Millennials are looking for love. Pandemic or not, human connections will always win, especially when built on shared values,  beliefs and quirks.”

Talking about the dating trends that were seen in 2020, Shreya Shively spoke about how they saw users change the way they used dating apps. She tweeted, “We found that the way our followers used dating apps changed dramatically – with the pandemic making offline meetings difficult, people turned towards these apps to build connections, and even got super creative with virtual dates!”

Ravi Mittal also highlighted how the adoption rate of dating apps amongst Indian singles has increased. He tweeted, “2020 has been the year when virtual dating was accepted by the masses among the desi singles. We witnessed participation from people of all age groups and geographies.” He also talked about the traffic scene on QuackQuack, he said, “We saw an 80% increase in our traffic and see a tremendous potential for growth.”

However, at the same time Mittal’s areas of concern were managing the team working from home, which was the main challenge, besides there was also an increase in fake profiles.

According to Arnab Mitra, the one trend that was seen during the lockdown was that people were bored and many of them joined dating apps to kill this boredom. He opined, “I think a lot of people joined dating apps with no desire to date but just to kill boredom, which is counter-productive to the business, I feel.”

The discussion then moved on to talking about user acquisition in 2020 as well as the trends seen in the TG of dating apps and matrimony websites. Citing statistics, Rajasekar tweeted that women engagement grew by 59% on the platform, while self registered users grew to 70%.

His further said, “There was a 30% increase in registrations; 30% spike in women making the first move; and 24% increase in acceptance of interest from male members.”

Continuing with citing numbers, Kumar informed that on OkCupid, users are 50% more likely to begin a conversation as compared to pre-pandemic times.

Kumar further added, “People who weren’t sure about online dating earlier have discovered that dating on OkCupid gives them a chance at more serendipities than IRL. Millennial daters have been intentional in their dating behaviour. Longer conversations with potential partners, faster end to uninteresting connections and solidifying a relationship that felt right are on the rise.”

Talking about the regional growth of QuackQuack, Mittal tweeted, “The engagement from Tier 2 and 3 towns has tripled during the pandemic, possibly because of reverse migration. 70% of our user base now comes from Tier 2 cities versus 60% earlier, with topics like ‘lockdown’, ‘coronavirus’  or ‘How are you coping with this situation’ becoming the new ice breakers. Since people were not going out more, they were chatting to get to know each other, we saw a 40% increase in chats.

Speaking about how the importance of human connection grew during the lockdown, Shively remarked, “The lockdown was difficult for people, and the need for human connection made a lot of people turn towards dating apps – not just for dating, but also for meeting new people, forming friendships, having conversations, or even to just pass time.”

Giving his perspective, Mitra summed up by saying “I feel people have valued real world more than ever and have understood that digital life is quite fake, boring, uninteresting. Anonymity isn’t cool any more. Appreciation for the real deal is coming soon!”

Catch the complete conversation on Twitter and follow @adgully for more such #TwitterChats every Friday between 3 pm and 4 pm.


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