For more than a year now, people around the world have adjusted to what it means to “date” during a global pandemic. The dating app industry has transformed from meeting up at a restaurant to scheduling a zoom date over the phone or laptop. This transformation – and continued evolution – can be credited much in part to Gen Z and Millennials, both of which have led the charge in the recent growth of dating apps.
Now, with the vaccine roll out well underway, dating app users are ready to get back in the dating game. So as “normal” life seemingly returns as quickly as it left, the world of dating apps is adjusting again to new trends and users’ updated dating preferences in a post-pandemic America.
Dating App Usage Skyrocketed During The Pandemic, Now Hinting At Continued Growth Post Vaccine Rollout
Like so many other industries, dating apps experienced a spike in new users and overall activity over the past year, as they represented safe ways for people to stay connected during times of isolation. At the start of the pandemic, top dating apps recorded surges in demand. Tinder experienced 3 billion swipes in one day during March 2020, OkCupid reported a “700% increase in dates” between March and May 2020, and Bumble’s video calls grew 70%. This elevated demand continued throughout the pandemic, with the Finding Love Post-COVID trend report from YPulse revealing “40% of 18-39-year-olds say they’ve been using dating apps and sites more often since COVID-19, while 43% of 18+ have been dating exclusively on apps and sites since the outbreak started.”
Today, dating apps are preparing for yet another wave of increased user demand, as many dating app users are eager to return to in-person dates, pending their potential matches show proof of vaccination. Dating app users highlighting their vaccination status on their profiles appears to be increasing their potential to find love, with OkCupid data revealing “people who are vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated receive 14% more matches than those who don't.” Additional data from OkCupid showed, “The phrase ‘I’m vaccinated’ on OkCupid profiles increased over 1,400% this month [in May 2021] compared to January,” leading many to believe that today’s dating app users will continue to be more open about and invested in vaccination status and overall health.
In a similar vein, CNBC contributor Jessica Bursztynsky shared, “Bumble told investors that it was already seeing signs of increased engagement in the U.S. People who had opted out of the app during the pandemic are starting to come back, and people who stayed are engaging even more.”
Dating Apps Launch Features Encouraging Users To Get Vaccinated
As dating app users express more interest in the option to share their own vaccination status – and match with others who align – dating apps are evolving their platforms to conform to the times. Most recently, some of today's most popular dating apps – including Bumble, Match, Tinder, Hinge and OkCupid – signed on to a new effort which will offer badges and filters to users looking to share their vaccine statuses. Many dating apps will also provide users with premium content and additional resources to learn more about where to get vaccinated, ideally incentivizing more users to get the shot.
The participating platforms, which together represent more than 50 million U.S. users, will display their vaccine-related offerings in different ways. Match will give users a “boost” when they share their vaccination badges, moving their profiles up in search results. OkCupid will also be adding the boost feature, while Bumble will give users with vaccination badges “credits for ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Superswipes’ features.” Leading dating app Tinder will take it one step further, announcing it will be adding a “Vaccine Center” for users seeking information on vaccination sites in their area.
Newly Launched Dating Apps Weave In Features Tied To COVID-19 Dating Trends Expected To Stick Around Long-Term
While many dating apps are adjusting their platforms to reflect the current state of the world, other platforms are focusing on dating trends that have emerged as a result of the pandemic and have potential to remain relevant long-term. Lolly, one of the newest dating apps to enter the scene, is capitalizing on the rise of TikTok and short-form videos, which have become increasingly popular among Millennials and Gen Z (who also happen to be the primary demographic on dating apps).
Lolly users are asked to upload short videos to their dating profiles for fellow users to scroll through in a similar vertical manner as TikTok. If a user likes someone else’s video, they can “clap” the video, as opposed to “liking” a static photo. “Clapping a video feeds Lolly’s recommendation algorithm, all but guaranteeing that users will see videos from that person again,” writes Forbes contributor Rachel Sandler.
The idea of Lolly is to create connections that are deeper than just physical appearance, but rather show the users’ personalities through fun, personable videos. “We want to focus on multi-faceted attractiveness and, really for the first time in this industry, introduce personality into the equation,” said Lolly co-founder Marc Baghadjian.
The launch of Lolly is a prime example that, while it’s important to reflect the times we are living in, it’s also wise to invest in trends that have the potential to stick around long-term. For dating apps, the ability to tap into relevant trends that provide an enjoyable (and successful) experience will be key for long-term success, even as hopeful singles return to in-person dating.
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