Dating is one of the fastest growing verticals in the mobile space. In 2020, 270 million adults worldwide use dating apps, which is almost double the number five years ago. In the United States alone, 39% of couples in 2019 said they met online. This number will continue to grow as the number of 18-29 year olds joining dating apps to meet romantic partners is increasing. By 2024, the global dating app market size is expected to exceed 8.4 billion U.S. dollars.
Table of Contents
One of the factors driving the success of dating apps is their simplicity. However, the model has remained relatively unchanged until recently. For example, some users have been dissatisfied with “mindless” swiping features, and due to widespread lockdowns and social distancing rules over the past 18 months, people developed different expectations and greater needs from dating apps. But continued high demand has caused a massive disruption in the dating app market and pushed giants like Tinder and Bumble to reevaluate their models and build a more integrated UX.
Dating apps diversify their offerings
To help people make better connections with their matches, Bumble and Tinder have introduced new interactive features. For example, Bumble has a “Night In” trivia option where users can set up a virtual trivia date if they match with someone, in addition to sending voice memos, GIFS, and pictures.
Tinder has “Swipe Night”, a live, interactive dating feature where singles follow a storyline together. Users spend a set amount of time trying to figure out which character committed a fictitious crime. Every episode concludes with “Fast Chat,” where members can talk about the story, analyze clues, and help solve the mystery with another participant. It’s also possible for them to match later.
Tinder has also added videos to its app and announced an “explore” section, similar to social media feeds on TikTok and Instagram. This feature explicitly targets Gen Z, as they want more than just bios to decide whether to like or swipe. The point of incorporating short-form videos is not necessarily for entertainment as is familiar on social media apps — it’s a way to help make connections, find matches, and empower users to meet romantic partners who share similar interests.
These new features encourage users to spend more time in-app by using mediums like voice memos and videos to form stronger bonds, even if they are restricted to being digital. Videos in particular help users to discern if they would like to meet their matches in person later, and according to Tinder, over half of their users used video chat during lockdowns, and 40% have reported that they will continue.
Dating apps continue to perform well in 2021
Adjust data shows that global installs of dating apps in the first half of 2021 have increased by 13% compared to Q4 of 2020. This suggests that user interest in dating apps is still high (following the pandemic surge). While many markets have seen restrictions lifted or eased, the needs from dating apps have changed.
In addition to the increase in installs, sessions per user, per day have been impressive and remained steady so far in 2021. The average user had 3.81 sessions per day on day 1 in Q2 of 2021, a notable increase from Q3 2020’s 3.59. By day 7, users were logging in 3.58 times, and two weeks in they can be seen 3.46 times a day. By day 30, the average user has 3.45 sessions per day.
Session lengths overall in 2021 so far are also high, sitting at 13.26 minutes per user, per day. Interestingly, Android users log longer sessions lengths than those on iOS, coming in at 13.69 minutes per day vs. 12.76.
Dating apps also boast very high retention rates. Compared to the industry average in Q2 of 2021, dating apps perform significantly higher throughout an entire 30-day user journey. The industry day 1 average currently sits at 26%, while dating apps reach 32%. Similarly, by days 3 and 7 dating apps are still as high as 23% and 18%, where the industry average is 17% and 13% respectively.
Adjust data also shows that the top day of the week for sessions is Sunday. Conversely, the slowest days of the week are consistently Friday and Saturday. This Friday vs. Sunday contrast is similar to the trends we’ve reported on in the health and fitness vertical, where users are least active at the end of the week and most active on Sundays.
Social is the way forward for dating apps
Looking at our data, it is evident that adapting to the changing needs of users has been very effective for dating app developers. These apps need to continue ensuring that their user experience meets the expectations of their user base, or of the users they aim to acquire. Those with higher percentages of Gen Z users should be particularly vigilant. Research shows that Gen Z doesn’t just use dating apps for dating, rather that many, according to Tinder, just want to meet new and different people and get out of their ‘echo chambers’. Bumble already offers a solution for “friends matching” called Bumble BFFs. For dating apps to be successful moving forward, going social is one of the key factors that will drive growth.