Tindernomics: Digital Dating is Big Business

In the risky, frisky world of online dating, no service is rocketing higher or faster than Tinder.

Since launching in September 2012, Tinder has created sparks around the world and matched over 1 billion people, with 10 million matched per day from 800 million daily swipes.

The app, created by twenty somethings Sean Rad and Justin Mateen, operates in 24 languages and is meant to come across as the cool, breezy version of online dating, that isn’t really online dating because that’s for old single people who have no hope of getting a date on their own, right?

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Contrary to what you may think, the app wasn’t created in a college dorm room to recreate Zuckerberg’s original Facebook plan, but was born from a ‘start-up incubator’ funded by a corporate giant, InterActiveCorp’s Match Group, the driving force behind established online dating sites Match and OK Cupid.

The CEO of IAC says this past January has been the most successful the group has ever had, with a 60 per cent increase in users from last year and over 600 per cent in the last five years.

According to Greg Blatt, Chairman of Match Group, around 20 – 25 per cent of single people now use online dating services and dating apps. And this exponential growth is easy to explain; the app is fun, easy to use, provides almost instant results and most importantly, is free.

Well, kind of.

A few weeks ago, Tinder uprooted the foundation of its easy breezy model to introduce a new premium service, Tinder Plus.

This means Tinder now limits the number of right swipes (or matches) users can make before having to pay, devastating the the most right-swipe happy group on the service; horny young men.

As a result users will now need to be more discerning with their swipes (or pay for being so reckless with their choices and genitals). Think of it like Tinder encouraging you not to be a ho.

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In addition to this restriction, oldies will be getting slugged with extra fees, and by old I mean anyone over 30, so not really that old. In the US under 30’s will pay $9.99 a month for access to Tinder Plus, while anyone born before 1985 will pay double at $19.99 a month.

Across the pond in the UK, things get a bit more complex where people over the age of 28 can pay up to four times as much as the younger Tinderers (could we call them kindling?), or AUD$26.69 and AUD$7.90 respectively.

The introduction of payment schemes was always on the cards, but may have been prompted sooner as a result of big brands using the service as a means of free advertising.

Mexican chain and your late night post-bender stop off, Guzman Y Gomez joined the app last year to cause a stir around the release of their new $5 burrito. It was clever marketing to their key age and lifestyle demographic, but things got pretty creepy pretty fast.

A few of my favourite lines from their profile and orchestrated chats were, “looking for a Juan night stand” (lol), “I want to be in and around your mouth” (ew), and “you’re going to need napkins when we’re done” (creepy).

Other brands have done the same but in a slightly classier manner, with shows like The Mindy Project creating profiles for its lead characters, and General Pants giving all Tinder users 20 per cent off around Valentine’s Day when they showed their profile to a staffer in store.

The most sobering though was The Immigration Council of Ireland who used the app to raise awareness of human trafficking, by creating a profile where each picture swiped past shows a woman appearing progressively more bruised.

Regardless of these new tiers of subscription, I suspect Tinder will continue to grow given there are now more options for customisation and functionality within the app, and potentially a more discerning user base given swipes are now a valuable commodity to be used with caution.

And given five per cent of Australia’s entire population now have a Tinder profile it seems the days are almost gone where you can be in a bar and just be a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to buy you a drink.

Big Brand Tinder Campaigns

Immigration Council of Ireland

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Now for your enjoyment, I’m proud to present Jamie Foxx singing people’s stupid Tinder profiles: