Taking cues from young teens who use video chat apps to chat with crushes and military personnel who use them to stay in contact with family, this model was adopted by the online dating population in response to COVID-19. This observation reflects a successful ‘social digital transformation’ where a significant portion of society adopted a set of technological solutions to adapt to circumstances. And now that Tinder has added an official video chat component called Face to Face, it’s a good time to discuss what the future might hold.
Like the axiom “love will find a way” suggests, technology would come to the rescue to help network people pursuing romantic interests and primal instincts. Here, we’re going to look at some of the effects the pandemic had on dating through data then discuss what the future looks like for dating as a whole.
Online dating statistics 2021: Effects of the pandemic on dating
Online dating has truly been around since the Internet started making its way into homes around the world – it started with chat rooms and email then segued into social media like Myspace but today, we have an actual app for that. Even before the pandemic took hold, sites and apps specifically for dating had become a big part of our culture.
But between social distancing measures and forced closures of virtually all public establishments, this put a hindrance on a key part of dating: the date portion! Even though platforms like Tinder are well known throughout the world, the platforms were threatened by the potential of less demand due to the pandemic guidelines. While some casual users who use the app more for conversation would still be there, the segment of users who are mindful of the restrictions in place but want the formal, physical experience of a date would likely drop off while the virus ran its course. At least, in theory.
Consider that just before COVID-19 struck, Pew Research put out an article that revealed valuable online dating statistics – some 30% of all US adults reported using a dating site or app. About half of those on the youngest end of the spectrum (between 18 and 29) have used an online dating service, while the 30 to 49-year-old crowd followed closely behind at 38% and those 50 and older came in 16%.
If you dig deeper, you’ll find several other useful online dating statistics of how people use platforms and their experiences from their perception of effectiveness, disposition toward the overall experience, and more, most of which paints a picture of positive sentiment. Another older study eHarmony published in 2015 shows roughly the same data along with some additional, unique insights.
Though the pandemic threatened real-life dates, reports from Match, which owns the likes of Tinder, Hinge, OkCupid, and some 42 other services, saw both an increase in usage from more subscribers and a higher ARPU (Average Revenue Per Customer) during the pandemic. Many users anecdotally report they turned to video chats, often naming FaceTime, to virtually date each other while sharing a glass of wine, playing a game together, Snapchatting each other, and so on. Before the pandemic, only some 6% reported they would consider video chat dating to providers quickly implementing internal video chat features, starting with Bumble, followed by Hinge then Tinder.
Despite a lack of a formal figure from a dating authority to show us exactly how much video chat is now used for dating, we can assume that it’s pretty substantial from the amount of discussion it has generated. The question is, will it stick around?
We think so!
The future of online dating
If you followed the last link to BBC’s piece on online dating statistics, you’ll see that there are several pieces of supporting evidence introduced, along with expert speculation, that suggests that video chat will be here to stay. It’s provided a great opportunity for people to connect on some level during a time when physical meetups were ill-advised. Much like how businesses of all flavors realized that video conferencing saves significant time and money compared to physical meetings (even before the pandemic solidified this strategy), people in the dating pool have either used it themselves or at least realize it’s a viable solution thanks to discussions in circulation.
When the necessity to use video subsides, it’s likely that usage of integrated and outside video chat solutions will wane as well. Usage of all platforms will likely dimmish to some degree as there’s reason to believe the same so-called swiping fatigue that is believed to have contributed to the global decline of dating app usage in 2019 may well come into play seeing as usage is now higher than it’s ever been.
Ignoring the likely erroneous projections at the beginning of this piece, the author wraps up by pointing out a few potential ways existing providers might be able to improve their services. Better security for identifying and verifying individuals would go a long way to curbing the sizable percentage of people who are highly concerned with safety. No, it doesn’t need blockchain, but using systems like Checkr which we have used to build services like Hyer or even a KYC (Know Your Customer) would go a long way. You should expect some kind of better identity solutions to be rolled out in time.
Another thing the author points out is better analytics as there’s more to human chemistry than matching interests. There’s an indirect suggestion made that there’s potential for ML (Machine Learning) to play a role by learning more about users from what they organically post and react to through social media integrations. Acknowledging glaring privacy concerns, a secure system isolated from outside attribution networks that parse user activity and uses some form of sentiment analysis could, in time, better match compatible people. This would propel systems like OkCupid’s matching algorithms to new heights.
Perhaps one of the most interesting developments we’ve observed is widespread interest in doing some kind of activity together. Though activities vary, there’s also been an observed uptick in the usage of online games with Snap Games being an excellent example. Unsurprisingly, Snapchat grew quite a bit during the pandemic which added to the number of players on their gaming platform. As such, others will likely follow suit once it’s better established that there’s a real want for virtual dating activities – in fact, the platform we’re developing for Keepers turns dating itself into a game.
We are ready to grow with the new digital solutions
We capture the essence of your business in the platforms we build – our designs intend to captivate audiences and drive your business toward its goals. Online dating is a multi-billion dollar industry that’s become a staple in society. We know that innovative dating products that are leveraged to their audience are prime for business. Feel free to reach out to learn more about how we can bring life to your online dating idea.
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