Launching a dating app: is it time for the next big one?

In our increasingly digitally-reliant world, dating apps have made a significant impact on how people seek and find love. So how can this market improve?

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It’s hard to remember the initial scepticism that surrounded online dating. To say attitudes have evolved is an understatement in this age of swiping, ghosting and removing then reinstalling apps over and over. However, challenges still exist in the online dating landscape that new entrepreneurs can resolve through a creative approach. So, if you’ve ever been interested in starting a business that connects people, and making a profit while doing so, this article may be for you.

Even amid the market dominance of Tinder, there’s room at the table for new players. Just one example is Playdate – a new UK dating app exclusively for single parents, which recently won the ‘Best Emerging Dating App 2023' award. 

In this guide, we’ll delve into the dynamics of the dating app landscape, exploring the changing attitudes toward online dating, and shedding light on how small businesses can leverage opportunities within the industry.

Playdate, the new dating app for single parents

Playdate, founded in 2021, recently earned significant recognition at the SME Greater London Enterprise Awards

With nearly 50,000 users and counting, Playdate has become the go-to platform for single parents in the UK seeking meaningful relationships. 

The brainchild of Nevine Coutry, a single mom and marketing entrepreneur, Playdate aims to address the unique challenges faced by single parents in the dating world.

Nevine Coutry's vision for Playdate is to empower single parents to find compatible partners who understand their lifestyles and commitments. The app's success reflects the untapped demand among single parents for dating opportunities tailored to their needs.

Since its launch in April 2021, Playdate has experienced consistent growth, attracting single mothers and fathers alike. It also boasts some pretty innovative and distinctive features – such as an in-app childcare solution in partnership with the UK's leading nanny and sitter app, Bubble. There’s also an “invisibility” feature that allows users to remain hidden from their ex-partners.

For more information about the app, please visit www.gotoplaydate.com

Playdate is available from the App Store and Google Play now.

Understanding user preferences in the dating app industry

In our quest to unveil the dynamics of the dating app industry, we at Startups embarked on a mission to decipher what truly lies at the heart of user preferences. Through careful analysis, we've garnered insights into the aspects that users cherish and the vexations that often hinder people’s quests for love.

Did you know?

  • The UK dating app market contributes around £11.7 billion to the UK economy.
  • The online dating market value is expected to reach £74 million this year.
  • Over 30% of British adults think a pub or bar is the worst place for a first date

Source: Don’t Disappoint Me

Here's what we've discovered:

Pet peeves:

  • Fake or deceptive profiles: one of the chief grievances users voice pertains to encountering fake or deceptive profiles. Similarly, deceptive or inaccurate profiles can lead to disappointment and erode trust among users. Authenticity remains a cornerstone of branding and user trust.
  • Excessive advertising: overloading users with advertisements disrupts the user experience, making it an unwelcome intrusion.
  • Ineffective matching: frustration mounts when users feel that the matches they receive do not align with their preferences.
  • Lack of safety measures: safety and privacy concerns persist as a significant issue, signalling the need for robust security measures. This is particularly important as cybersecurity attacks peak in February – a time where Valentine’s Day looms, and love is more poignantly in the air.
  • Ghosting: many users express frustration with the prevalence of ghosting, where conversations come to an abrupt and unexplained halt.
  • Superficiality: some users lament the emphasis placed on appearance over substance in online dating profiles.
  • Overwhelming options: an abundance of potential matches can be overwhelming and may lead to decision fatigue.
  • Monetisation tactics: users are increasingly wary of apps that restrict essential features behind paywalls, as it can impede their journey to find love.

Did you know?

21% of Britons are steering clear of dating apps until a better vetting process is established.

Source: CyberCrew

Favourites:

  • Efficiency: users highly value apps that swiftly connect them with potential matches, streamlining the search for companionship.
  • Safety features: the incorporation of rigorous safety measures, such as verification processes, is met with approval and trust from users and reduces consumer dissatisfaction when it comes to chargebacks and refunds.

Careful background checks would encourage Brits to use dating apps and sites more 

A more extensive vetting process, chosen by 21% in a 2021 survey, is the main factor that would encourage Brits to use online dating services more often. 

19% went with more choice in their area (the second most popular preference), and 16% wanted more personalised matches. 

11%, on the other hand, said they would use online dating services in the UK more if they knew something about the other person’s attitude towards Covid-19 restrictions, while 9% would like it if the app suggested safe venues for dates.

Source: Statista

  • User-friendly interface: an intuitive and easy-to-navigate app interface is considered paramount for a positive user experience.
  • Effective matching algorithms: apps that adeptly provide relevant matches based on user preferences enjoy favour among the dating app audience.
  • Diverse user base: a diverse user pool is perceived as a treasure trove of opportunities for meaningful connections, underscoring the importance of inclusivity.
  • Convenience: users appreciate the convenience of exploring potential partners from the comfort of their homes, a defining attribute of modern dating.

52 percent of shoppers said that half or more of their purchases are influenced by convenience

Source: NASDAQ.

  • Filtering options: advanced search and filtering options, which help users find matches that align with their preferences, are highly valued.
  • Expanded dating pool: online dating expands the dating pool, increasing the likelihood of finding compatible partners.

The future of online dating

Over the five years through 2023-24, dating services' revenue is forecast to grow at a compound annual rate of 5.7% to reach £386.2 million, including growth of 4.2% in 2023-24, with the average profit margin estimated to be 7%. 

Source: IBIS World

As the dating app industry seeks to thrive and evolve, it's crucial to explore alternative monetisation strategies that do not compromise the core mission of fostering genuine connections. Restricting messages and matches, often employed as monetisation methods, can frustrate users and hinder their chances of finding real love. 

Monetisation strategies should also evolve beyond restricting messaging or matches. Here are five alternative ways to increase customer retention:

  • Premium features: offer premium features, such as advanced search filters or ad-free experiences, for a subscription fee.
  • Virtual events: organise virtual events, webinars, or workshops for users to connect and learn, creating a sense of community.
  • In-app purchases: enable users to buy virtual gifts or tokens to send to potential matches, enhancing engagement.
  • Personalised coaching: provide personalised dating advice or coaching services for a fee.
  • Virtual currency: introduce a virtual currency system within the app, allowing users to earn or purchase credits to access premium features or send virtual gifts to other users. This approach gamifies the experience while generating revenue.
  • Affiliate marketing: collaborate with businesses that align with the dating app's mission, such as restaurants, florists, or gift shops. Users can receive discounts or special offers from these affiliates, creating a win-win scenario.

Conclusion

Did you know?

50% of single Britons have never asked anyone on a date in person.

Source: DatingSitesReviews

In conclusion, while Playdate addresses a significant gap in the online dating market by catering exclusively to single parents, there is still ample room for innovation in the industry. 

Integrative technologies such as AI, gamification, and improved algorithms hold the potential to redefine the future of dating apps. However, monetisation strategies should evolve to enhance customer lifetime value and retention, avoiding the frustration of restricting messages or matches. 

Ultimately, users seek genuine connections, and the success of dating apps hinges on their ability to provide a transparent and authentic platform for love to flourish. 

As the dating landscape continues to evolve, the key to lasting success lies in adaptability, and a commitment to meeting users' true desires.

Written by:
Stephanie Lennox is the resident funding & finance expert at Startups: A successful startup founder in her own right, 2x bestselling author and business strategist, she covers everything from business grants and loans to venture capital and angel investing. With over 11 years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Stephanie is passionate about how business owners can not only survive but thrive in the face of turbulent financial times and economic crises. With a background in media, publishing, finance and sales psychology, and an education at Oxford University, Stephanie has been featured on all things 'entrepreneur' in such prominent media outlets as The Bookseller, The Guardian, TimeOut, The Southbank Centre and ITV News, as well as several other national publications.

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