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The Weird World of Mobile Dating

February 17, 2016

It’s easy to be one of the Valentine’s naysayers. “It’s just another Hallmark Holiday,” they say. It’s the same engagement people have with dating apps: haven’t you heard that “nobody finds real love on Tinder”? If you really can’t express or find love through these means, then why do people continue to invest so much time, money, and energy into them? And why do increasingly strange and worrying iterations of these dating apps keep turning up online?

Each year, the US economy is injected with between 18-20 billion dollars of Valentine’s spendings. Over 50 million people had downloaded Tinder in January of 2015, and there are now almost 58 million users. In 2015, Tinder exploded on the days surrounding Valentine’s Day, with a major spike occurring in the days following, as lonely hearts who’d been left dateless vowed to never let it happen again.

We know this: love and loneliness motivate patterns of consumption. People get online or empty their wallets because they want to experience love or companionship or both—even just briefly. If you want to make customers love you, you should be mindful of the things that they love and desire, and make them part of your appeal. This is nothing revolutionary: it’s marketing 101. But there is a right and a wrong way to tug on your customers’ heartstrings.

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Healthfoods chain, Just Salad, launched an app called SaladMatch back in 2013. The premise was simple: take the loyal Just Salad customers, their preferred store, the time they usually frequented the store, and their favourite salad style. You’d then be given a “swipe left/ swipe right” style match-up series. Which hopefully would lead you to a meet-up at your local Just Salad. Ok, so it might seem all very strange to have a vegetable-based dating application. But the premise isn’t too bad, and it certainly started a conversation. It got coverage from popular outlets like the Huff PostThe Daily Mail, and TIME. Although, understandably, most reports deemed it a bizarre addition to the likes of OkCupid and eHarmony, none of them ruled out the possibility of its success. It seems that the application itself was responsible for that. Its interface didn’t have much visual appeal, and its “matching” algorithm made the occasional error in matching individuals who frequented stores on opposite sides of town.

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Sizzl was launched by Oscar Mayer—the makers of Lunchables, and one of America’s largest producers of processed meat—in September 2015. Although it’s hard to gauge how successful this application actually was, but the media attention it received was somewhat more enthusiastic. But why? Firstly, bacon seems to have a legion of incredibly loyal followers, and the app harnessed that. The app itself wasn’t too badly designed either, building upon a a neat parody of Tinder. It even had an innovative “sizzle” tool, where you pressed down on the profile of your preferred match for a long time to indicate that they were sizzlin’ hot, or a shorter time to indicate a fizzlin’ not.  It was a pretty slick interface: definitely out of SaladMatch’s league.

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From the likes of SaladMatch, Sizzl, and Tinder, we can identify two major forces. Love, and the pressure to find love is present within all of these examples. Although both SaladMatch and Sizzl lean heavily on their comical dimensions, it’s not hard to see why they came about in the first place: people like and feel comfortable with looking for love on the internet. The second major force is not just the smartphone applications themselves, but the design of them. Tinder’s success is due to its skilful design, its straightforward interface, and addictive “swipe left swipe right” feature that is parroted in both Sizzl and SaladMatch. The app industry itself is undergoing tremendous growth, as tracked by our latest edition of INSIGHTS. Business owners are staking their claims in this developing territory, and the future really does belong to those who take the front foot.

Our challenge to you is to come up with a combination better than dating and lettuce leaves. Bring us your idea for your business’ app, and we’ll work with you to make it a reality.

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Mobile overtook desktop. Two whole years ago.

You need an app. Edition 3 of Dando INSIGHTS evaluates the benefits, and maps the future. It’s essential reading if you’re considering making the great leap forwards.

 

 

 

Image Credit: Ian Turk, https://flic.kr/p/CU5RRp

 

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