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What does the Future Hold for Dating?

Thursday July 9, 2015

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With the dating world awash with websites, apps, swipey bits and things that go ping in the night, all promising to match you up with your next date, lover, spouse, etc. what will be the next big thing?

Perhaps the best way to answer this is to take a quick look back at how we've got to where we are.

In The Beginning – The Electronic Personal Ad
The possibilities of global interconnectedness were jumped on by the dating industry back in the 90’s as the first online dating sites emerged. While the sheer number of people to meet and the ways in which preferences could be refined was a significant step forward for singles, ultimately the online dating industry settled into a rut of self-satisfaction. Most sites remained little more than an interactive equivalent of newspaper personal columns. This was less Web 2.0 than Web 1.5 on a good day.

As the mobile device market expanded, so too did the demand for apps. Initially, few were little more than scaled down versions of their online elders. Sure, there were a couple that utilised geolocation and the like but the entire industry seemed stuck for ideas. This wasn’t helped by exorbitant data charges and slow mobile connection.

The App Revolution – Happy to Swipe You
Even as data became cheaper and faster, there seemed little large scale innovation until the creation of swipeable, on demand and localised software with the granddaddy of them all, Tinder, swiftly dominating the market.

And yet, while the financial success of apps like Tinder cannot be denied, the quality of such apps as they relate to actually meeting and dating is being increasingly questioned. Such apps utilise the idea of dating and hook ups to leverage investment while developing a product that taps into a demand that has very little to do with dating per se.

The Stutter App
We can see this as newer apps are developed that care less about user numbers and more about user experience. Some have gone so far as to manually verify every profile. While this initially looks like financial suicide – what investor is going to hand over a wad of cash for a system that puts market growth second – it’s a calculated risk that value of experience is becoming a greater driver behind app engagement and use.

We won’t have to wait long to see how the market responds but in the meantime, these apps still have one thing in common. They’re incapable of replicating the authenticity of face to face meeting.

They may arguably facilitate the increased possibility of meeting someone you have something in common with but even this is questionable. Regardless of intent, many apps are little more than a number game. Simple numerical imbalance of gender and resulting in app behavioural differences mean that the legitimacy of the user experience cannot be replicated if and when people do meet.

The Counterrevolution – Back to the Face to Face Future
This is why we’re seeing the larger online and app dating companies investing in physical events. Establishing a physical presence within the market place is increasingly being seen as adding value to the online user experience. I would go so far as to suggest it’s an attempt to circumvent user fatigue that sees users continue to interact with software but engagement lessen.

That’s not to say those of us in the physical dating industry can sit back and watch the cash roll in. Quite the opposite. Where users have seen an explosion in what’s available in the dating software market, this increased choice has made those engaging with the physical market a little more demanding. Traditional speed dating is still very popular but people are now wanting a combination of choices offered by online dating options and the real life experience of speed dating.

People are discerning. They understand that online and app based options lack the ability to provide an ‘end-game’ experience yet still want to make informed decisions around the types of people they meet.

As such, it’s incumbent upon us to provide more events that cater for particular tastes - Speed dating for wine lovers; food dating; speed dating for book lovers or lovers of music; those who enjoy pub quizzes or travel… The list will expand.

And Next…
So where do I see the future for single Londoners? It’s a tough call. We’re already seeing a move back toward more traditional event and matchmaker driven dating. Perhaps it’s up to those in this face to face market to take up where the technology driven folk have dropped the ball slightly. For my money, the future is in a combination of the two. Increasing the legitimacy and authenticity of the app based user experience by seamlessly integrating it with face to face meeting.

I have a few ideas as to how this would work. Perhaps we may see the increasing use of localised app based technology at larger singles events. This would provide a starting point from which to gauge the efficacy of a product. Who knows? With sufficient take up perhaps we’ll see an organic spread of such events occurring outside the control of companies such as ours - A sort of flash mob/pop up app driven singles event.

By The Way
In the meantime did I mention our in event matching app – Mixeo? Or did I mention you can use it at our literary speed dating, Stereo speed dating, upcoming tapas speed dating, travel lover’s speed dating… In fact at any of our events?

How could I have been so forgetful?

I tell you what. Don’t take my word for it. Come and check us out.