As people return to social mingling in a post-pandemic world, eager singles will also be actively updating their online dating profiles. The biggest name in digital courting, Tinder, has recently made major updates to its mobile app in anticipation of a busy summer of romantic connections. The biggest new features revolve around video.
Being the company that revolutionized “swipe left” and “swipe right”, Tinder is now pushing the online dating experience even further. Last fall, it tested video chat within its app, which was appropriate during COVID-19 lockdown. After seeing success, Tinder has invested even more into video. Tinder users can now record, edit, and upload 15-second clips into their personal profiles. This should help people reveal more depth to their personalities than generic selfies or pictures with their dogs. Tinder also launched a new feature called “Hot Takes”, which allows users to chat for 30-seconds before determining if it’s a match or a pass. “Hot Takes” will be the first time Tinder has permitted users to interact with one another before matching.
Tinder’s CEO Jim Lanzone describes these changes as “the first step in becoming more of a platform than just an app by giving daters more context, more ways to open conversation, and more reason to use the app”
Tinder launched its services in 2012. Founded by two USC graduates, the app first targeted college students and quickly became a hit. Connecting and wooing coeds become so much more scaled and efficient than the weekend house party. Almost a decade later, Tinder is a now global phenomenon with over 57 million users in 190 countries, has produced more than 8 billion matches, and has established itself as a staple in modern pop culture.
Even with Tinder’s growth and success, the online dating space is very crowded. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry that IBISWorld predicts will will be worth between $5.3 billion to $6.4 billion within a few years. In 2020, Tinder generated over $1.4 billion in revenue mainly from subscription fees and advertising. Unsurprisingly, the app’s user base skews younger, with over 50% of its users between 18 to 25 years old (Gen Z). This is a highly coveted demographic as they’re the next generation up with disposable income and influential consumer tastes.
By upping its video strategy and features, Tinder hopes to attract and retain these young, core users who grew up with in an era of Youtube, Snapchat, and Tik Tok. Gen Z’ers have an average attention of a 8 seconds, so they may commit less time in browsing Tinder and evaluating potential matches. And if they can’t find anyone who sparks their interest, Tinder’s perceived value will diminish and the users will churn out. Video can help users quickly determine if others are worth a swipe at a much faster and more engaging rate than the traditional picture and text. Additionally people hate wasting precious time, so a feature like “Hot Takes” could help filter out matches before committing to meeting up in IRL. There is also a safety play too. Being able to confirm that someone is actually real can minimize the risk of being catfished.
There are over 1,500 dating apps available for download and they all practically have the same purpose: helping people find their “one”. Plus many online daters probably utilize more than one service. This make minimizes differentiation and user loyalty. Video could help Tinder gain some market share, but there are already smally players who are targeting the young demo with this strategy, including Snack, which descries itself as “TikTok meets Tinder”, Lolly, and Feels.
However, user acquisition should be only part of the big picture. In the long term, most users don’t want to be using dating apps forever because they hope to eventually meet their perfect match. This puts a finite end to a users lifecycle, which isn’t idea. As CEO Jim Lanzone mentioned, he wants Tinder to become a platform, more so a social media platform. With these video additions, Tinder is creating new ways for people interact, just like a social media platform like Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. It won’t be surprising to see Tinder continue to branch into new ways for users to engage that go beyond dating. Bumble is dating app that also allows people to connect to make friends or professional connections. It won’t be long until Tinder starts allow live profile updates (a la Instagram Stories) or experiential integrations (i.e. partnering with live entertainment brands to create/sell unique experiences).
Learn more about the updates here.