I. Dating Industry history
The dating industry formed in the 1600s when the first services to help singles found spouses arose. At the time, being unmarried past the age of 21 was shameful causing some to turn towards matrimonial agencies to help them find a mate. The services utilized print ads typically on behalf of men who paid the agency to recruit them a wife. With the invention of the modern newspaper close to 1700 the print ad medium for finding a spouse began to gain popularity. Companies profited from posting a column in exchange for a fee.
Continuing into the 1900s, print advertisements continued to be the dominant medium for the dating industry, but starting around the ...view middle of the document...
These services were available for customers who chose to pay for a subscription. But it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the first true internet dating sites were created, the first of which being Match.com.
II. Dating Industry today
a. The Industry Today
The dating industry has evolved from traditional matchmaking, personal ads, and singles events to online and mobile dating. Online and mobile dating have surpassed traditional services and now account for 70% of the industry. (IBIS 3). The dating industry saw revenue of 1.9 billion in 2011 with 1% annual growth from 2006-2011. Growth is expected to improve to 2.8% from 2011-2016 as the US economy rebounds from the recession of 2008. (See Exhibit 1)
b. What’s driving growth
The biggest driver of growth in the industry has been the explosion of the internet into every aspect of society. In 2006, 65.8% of household had internet use. In 2011, this grew to 72.5% with expectations of growth to 79% by 2016. (IBIS 5) As a study in the journal for CyberPsychology and Behavior found, “the internet is so widely used that the online population increasingly resembles the offline population. As a result, patterns that occur in the offline world also increasingly emerge in online life.” (that journal, 4) This has been true of dating and as a result the acceptance of online dating is growing. In 2006, 11% of internet users had used a dating website. In 2011, it grew to 18%. “Changes in consumer acceptance have (also) been driven by increased marketing and advertising through movies, shows and articles about personal success stories.” (IBIS 13)
In addition to the growth of the internet, there have also been shifts in communication that have driven growth in the online dating industry. Written communication is rapidly replacing spoken communication. Nielsen’s State of the Media: The Mobile Media Report Q3 2011 shows that teens, age 13-17 text on average 3,417 times a month while voice usage for this group has declined from an average of 685 minutes in 2009 to 572 minutes in 2011. Growth in texting for those 55+ has grown 134% since 2009, representing the largest growth segment for texting. (See Exhibit 2). Online and mobile dating, being text based, fit in easily with this shift in communication.
Finally, societal shifts are the other major driver of growth in the dating industry. Attitudes toward marriage have dramatically shifted in US society. Since the early 1970’s to now, the number of marriages per 1,000 unmarried women age 15 and older in the United States has fallen from 76.5 to 34.9, a 54% decline. (National Marriage Project, U Virginia http://www.stateofourunions.org/2011/SOOU2011.pdf) At the same time, the number of divorces per 1,000 married women age 15 and older in the United States has increased from 9.2 to 16.4. (U Virginia 68) 33.5% of baby boomers aged 50-65 are unmarried. This is the fastest growing demographic for online dating. (IBIS 7) In the largest current segment for online...