Love in the times of COVID-19: How dating apps have adapted to the current environment
Singles around the world are craving to build a meaningful connection, now more than ever before.

Love in the times of COVID-19: How dating apps have adapted to the current environment

Singles around the world are craving to build a meaningful connection, now more than ever before.
  • Dating apps tell us how millennials are readjusting their lives in the wake of COVID-19.
  • They are switching to virtual dating, which has helped couples to build an emotional connect with their partners and ‘slow dating’ is thriving now.
As Coronavirus restrictions continue to be imposed across the country, singles around the world are craving to laugh, socialise, love and build a meaningful connection, now more than ever before. They are looking for someone to shoulder their worries with, from within the security of their four walls. Amid all this chaos, dating apps continue to play cupid and help millennials find love online.

Now that people have more time to spare, singles are welcoming ‘slow dating’ and getting to develop an emotional connection with their partner before a physical one. They are also sharing their dinner and Netflix time or playing online games to get to know each other well.

As a result, matches on OkCupid have increased by 10% worldwide since March 2020 - and conversations have increased by over 20%.

Telling us how the last month has been for OkCupid globally, Ariel Charytan, CEO, OkCupid, said, “You wouldn’t believe it, but when people can’t meet in person, they still find a way to date. In fact, there have actually been over 50 million intro messages sent across the world on OkCupid over the last month among daters connecting for the first time. With restaurants, bars, gyms, offices, and entertainment establishments around the world all temporarily closed, people are looking for human connection now more than ever before. OkCupid allows daters to match and get to know each other through thousands of in-app questions on everything from your thoughts on chai and pakoda on a rainy day to women working after marriage, that'll help you get to know each other without physically meeting. We don’t have to go through this isolation period completely alone. Staying connected is so important right now, whether that’s through OkCupid, video chatting with friends, or phone calls with family.”

Love in the times of COVID-19: How dating apps have adapted to the current environment

Closer home, Bumble saw a 29% increase in messages sent during the week ending March 27 than the previous one and a 17% increase in video calls. Average video call or phone call time lasted for 14 minutes, indicating that users are seeking emotional connects.

Priti Joshi, Vice President Strategy at Bumble, said, “We’re expecting these and other user behavior trends to evolve as more and more people are looking for ways to combat isolation and loneliness and engage in 1:1 virtual connections. When it comes to having a first date by video chat, we have seen our users leverage new interesting ways to build meaningful virtual connections—be it spontaneous trivia evenings, watching movies together, virtual happy hour, or sharing a glass of wine together over a Bumble video chat. Many of our users have given feedback that virtual dating is allowing them to create even stronger connections during this time.”

Crossing virtual borders

In March, as parts of the world went into lockdown, members started virtually travelling into other parts of the world and using Tinder’s Passport feature. India saw a 25% increase in the rate of ‘Passporting’ to other parts of the world and even on OkCupid, the data shows that women have been more likely to expand their preferred location to ‘anywhere’ so they can connect across borders after February.

In April, therefore, Tinder made its Passport feature available for free -- allowing members to temporarily change their location.

Explaining how the feature works and the kind of response the app has seen, a Tinder spokesperson said, “At present, most people are naturally feeling a mix of emotions. To ensure that social distancing doesn’t mean disconnecting for our members, we at Tinder made the decision to make our Passport feature free for all. Tinder Passport is typically a paid feature for Tinder Plus & Gold subscribers. Members can search by city or drop a pin on the map and one can begin liking, matching and chatting with Tinder members in a destination of their choice. There were 3+ billion swipes on Sunday, the 29th of March, this is more than on any single day in the history of Tinder. Globally, more members are swiping right on someone new, having more conversations overall, and those conversations are lasting longer.”

On Tinder, conversations have been up by an average of 39% and the average length of conversations is 28% longer. Users have also changed their bios to ‘stay home, be safe, social distancing, wash your hands and face emojis.’

Communicating with the audiences

While the current restrictions are changing the way we interact with each other, it hasn't changed our need for human connection -- dating apps are reminding the audience just that on social media. However, the marketing communications can be misread as opportunist or even insensitive.

To stay relevant in the current course of conversation, Bumble is exploring content collaborations on digital platforms.

Joshi said, “Our current brand narrative is encouraging users to make the first move from home so that they can ‘Stay Far And Get Close.’ We’re bringing this narrative to life through an omni-channel approach across paid digital media, content partnerships, influencer activations and always-on social promotions. Case in point is our partnership with the Circuit Comedy Festival—to allow Bumble users to form more meaningful connections with each other by providing them with a variety of unique digital experiences, all of which can be done from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Another example is our collaboration with Dice for their Season 2 of ‘Firsts’ that beautifully highlights our brand narrative of staying connected even when physically apart.”

While Tinder did not comment on its marketing strategy, it said that the app is primarily encouraging people to stay home and get to know each other virtually. To facilitate that, it has also released fun video backgrounds and ice-breaking suggestions on its app.

While the situation continues to evolve everyday and the way we date might change, the need for finding solidarity will remain constant. Experts opined that slow dating might continue to thrive even after we resume normalcy.