The Dating App Conundrum

Do dating apps encourage romance or kill it? Someone who uses OkCupid or Tinder, for instance, may be seen as merely looking for a compliant one night stand, not for a long-term relationship. Recent research, however, paints a different picture — out of five hundred dating app respondents that took the survey, thirty-eight percent of the men and forty-four percent of the women claimed they wanted a long-term and committed relationship from their dating app experiences. Also surprising, perhaps, is the fact that thirty-six percent of the entire survey population said they were able to find partners for at least half a year on dating apps in the last year.   

“Dating apps are a double-edged sword.  The same technology that brings a couple together is frequently the very temptation that breaks them apart.”– Relationship expert Amber Kelleher

Perhaps the reason not more is heard about the success of matchmaking apps in bringing couples together for the long run is that the companies who run the apps realize that when a client finds a real match they tend to cancel their subscription — and that’s the end of the company’s monthly fee. On the other hand, those who merely surf for a few convenient and pliable dates, but no long-term relationship, will keep paying the monthly fee for many months to come. In other words, it’s doubtful that the people who run dating apps are very motivated to help customers find a soulmate since that will end the income stream. 

That is the challenge for dating apps, indeed for any kind of matchmaking service — replacing satisfied customers, who, obviously, will stop using and paying for the service, with enough new clients to keep the business profitable. There are already concerns among consumer advocates that dating apps have no incentive to use the latest up-to-date technology and algorithms for their customers — because that just speeds up the process and the marketing and sales people won’t be able to come up with enough fresh new leads to fill the void. So dating apps are pulled in opposite directions — they have to be able to fulfill their romantic promise while maintaining a growing customer base.

Is the competition skewed?

The classic American business model consists of companies competing with each other to bring consumers the best service and/or brand. To do this, companies will spend a great deal of time and effort to improve customer satisfaction. This competition is a win-win for consumers, as companies will do pretty much anything to keep their prices down while constantly improving their service and product. But, as noted above, this doesn’t hold true for dating apps — the better they become at their job, the quicker they have to locate new, paying, clientele. It becomes a vicious circle.

The numbers

Dating apps also struggle with their pool of subscribers. The bigger the pool, the quicker it is ‘drained’ as singles find long-term matches, thus lowering the pool faster than it can be filled up again. What this means to consumers is that they should be wary of any dating app that boasts a huge number of subscribers. They are probably inflating their numbers to impress consumers.

Low commitment means high profit

It may be that dating apps will have to morph to survive by focusing on customers with low commitment desires — meaning that dating apps will become more and more outmoded and superfluous for those looking for a long-term relationship via online matchmaking websites.