Just recently we ran a story about the ban the Chinese army imposed on online dating. That sounded like a large (if not easily accessible) chunk of potential customers was eliminated from the game. This week, however, it was revealed that the virtual matchmaking industry is expanding at an alarming rate in this fastest-growing major economy.
The Wall Street Journal reported that last year alone Chinese dating sites amassed over 19 million members. This number, however, represents only ten percent of the total crowd of presently single Chinese Internet users. In just four years the business is expected to triple in the country. How does that translate to money? The Industry will collect $290 million in 2015 as opposed to $74 million this year.
Interestingly, when it comes to estimating projected online dating profits, analysts tend to be somewhat off sometimes. For instance, in 2007 Jupiter Research said the total revenue generated by dating sites would grow to $1.9 billion by 2012. This number, however, represented the online dating market value already in 2010. Moreover, the figure associated with online dating services is expected to top 4 billion before the end of this year. That’s a lot, to say the least. In all likelihood, with the current exponential growth, the Chinese numbers might go up even higher.
So, should we start learning Chinese, while looking for expansion?
Well, yes and no. It is a well known fact that timely conquests of new emerging markets bring plenty of dividends. In this sense, hiring Chinese-speaking staff and tapping the mostly uncharted waters just might prove a viable strategy. Luckily, the SkaDate Dating Software is also up to the task as Mandarin is one of ten languages the solution offers. Still, if that investment sounds too risky, know that the English-speaking market is still going strong as well.
Consider that even during the peak of recession online dating never lost traction and was actually gaining momentum, with some sites reporting about annual sales growth in the range of 400%!
Sure, most of the time the industry numbers are driven by giants, like Match.com, OkCupid, or PlentyOfFish, but smaller niche sites usually follow the lead, if not take it, when it comes to breaking records.
Skipping the US, and the aforementioned China, the trend is observed all across the globe as well. That amazing 400% figure came from Hamburg-based Parship, which went international in 2002, and now provides its services in 12 European markets and Mexico. In Australia online dating revenue exceeds $100 million, making it the most online-dating-obsessed country in the world based on per-capita calculation. Russia and India are catching up as well, showing as much as 50% growth rate on a year-to-year basis.
All of this is understandable considering the reasons people turn to online dating in the first place. The Internet widens horizons considerably, allowing for more opportunities to meet potential partners. The removed pressure, the simplicity of the process, the affordability, convenience, and better security compared to offline interaction, all contribute to the widespread popularity of the virtual matchmaking.
The growing familiarity with social networking helps the industry as well. As Facebook revealed this week that it now has 750 million users, while Google Plus positioned itself to become the next big thing, it is all but clear that the general population is fully embracing social media. The inevitable tug-of-war is expected to create a large enough wave to lift all boats. If online socializing is accepted by the majority of global Internet users, other aspects of virtual communication, including dating, will also see a spike in recognition.
What we have on our hands is a trend with no visible signs of slowing down. Understandably, the competition for the marketshare is high, but so are the possible profits and the number of potential customers. The truth is – with the right approach and careful consideration of strategy and opportunities, the world can still be your oyster.