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MASTERS THESIS

Online Dating
an exploratory academic essay
Author - Aliz Amrani
Tutor Vladimir Melnyk
Msc. In Marketing
Madrid, June 2015

Abstract
In an era where technology and the Internet have taken over our daily lives, the online dating
industry with the online dating websites and applications has become a connecting road for
the millions of single individuals trying to find an answer to their psychological and physical
needs.
This academic essay reviews the key findings of the scientific world in link with this subject,
through a literature review. This purely consumer behavior part shows that not everything
claimed by the company is completely true in terms of psychology and anthropology
knowledge. A short market analysis highlights the market opportunities, which are apparently
in emerging market ready to accept this form of services and finally, the third main part
explore the opinions and habits of the consumers through the analysis of data collected thanks
to an online survey. We found out differences between genders and age, and confirmed the
existence of a stigma attached to the use of online dating.

Keywords: Online dating, marketing, data analysis, psychology

To Mireille & Christian Mauduit, Members of the Rotary International.

Master's thesis - "Online Dating, An Exploratory Academic Paper"All rights reserved Aliz
Amrani, 2016

Table of content
I. Introduction ...................................................................................................................... 3
A. Problem statement......................................................................................................... 3
B. Why is this project important? ...................................................................................... 4
1. Why is the study of online dating specifically important? ........................................ 4
C. Expectations and methods ............................................................................................ 5
II. Literature review............................................................................................................... 6
A. How different is Online Dating (OD) form Traditional Dating (TD) ........................... 6
1. Points of Parity .......................................................................................................... 6
2. Points of difference ................................................................................................... 6
B. Is online dating the online store for dates? ................................................................... 7
C. Online dating: an environmental evolution .................................................................. 8
D. Online dating is a logical sequence of the changes of our societies ............................. 9
E. Self-market in the online dating environment ............................................................ 11
F. Assessing the relevancy of the Matching Algorithm through scientific literature
knowledge and digital marketing ................................................................................ 13
G. Limitations of online dating websites in terms of consumer behavior ....................... 17
III. The mosaic market of online dating ............................................................................... 21
A. The Market of Love in a nutshell ............................................................................ 21
1. Multi attributes perception map and main categories ............................................. 21
a. Niche markets ...................................................................................................... 22
b. Mass markets ....................................................................................................... 22
B. Case studies................................................................................................................. 23
1. Match Group Inc, the big player ............................................................................. 23
2. Ashley Madison, the most controversial ................................................................. 24
3. The Asian rising stars and the (expected) odd one out ........................................... 25
4. Marketing implications ........................................................................................... 26
IV. Research methodology, analysis and results .................................................................. 28
A. Methods ...................................................................................................................... 28
B. Hypothesis, analysis and results ................................................................................. 28
1. Descriptive data analysis ......................................................................................... 28
2. General descriptive and exploratory research ......................................................... 29
a. Age and technology use ....................................................................................... 29
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b. Use of online dating across gender, age and habits ............................................. 30


c. Use of online dating and opinions ....................................................................... 33
C. Limitations of the research.......................................................................................... 36
V. Conclusion ...................................................................................................................... 37
References ............................................................................................................................ 39
Appendix .............................................................................................................................. 43

Tables and Graphs


Figure 1 EKB model applied to customers use of online dating website ............................. 8
Figure 2 : Finkel and al.s 9 steps of online dating readapted .............................................. 20
Figure 3: Multiattribute perception map ............................................................................... 22
Figure 4: Independent sample T-Test "How many Online dating apps/website did you use"
and "Gender" .................................................................................................................. 32
Figure 5: Independent Sample T-Test "How old are you?" and "have you ever used
Tinder?" .......................................................................................................................... 33
Figure 6: box plots showing rating differences between genders ........................................ 35

I.

Introduction

A. Problem statement
Our planet accounts for 7,4 billion people (United Nations, Department of Economic
and Social Affairs, Population Division (2015)). We are the actors of an era where
3,399,670,996 people are using the internet, where more than 1,045,251,852 websites
are available and 178,781,917,885 emails are sent every day (InternetLiveStats, 2014).
By the time you have read those data, the number of internet users has increased by
already 100 persons, and now 55 more websites are available. Those websites are
accessible from that thing in your pocket called smartphone, actually, in those last 10
seconds, 600 have been sold.

If we concentrate on a smaller geographical area, the USA for example, we can see that
44% of the population is single (MSNBC Survey, e-zine, 2015) which represents a large
54 million persons (Reuters, Herald News, PC World, Washington Post, 2015) of which
14% have used an online dating website or a mobile dating application.

Numerous companies have taken advantage of this fast moving industry, making
millions out of peoples feelings.
However, early entrants on this market seem to have gathered the massive demand first
and they are now steadily settled in the segment. Those websites that are playing a
notable role in the life of people should be fully aware of the real trends and needs to be
able to offer the best service.

One third of recent marriage in the U.S has started online (Cacioppo et al., 2013),but
what are the success factors of this industry and what will those factors be in the future
in such a fast moving environment?

We can find many psychological studies about consumer/ human behavior online, as
well as business and marketing oriented studies, but very few of them are linked in
order to provide a whole understanding of the dynamics of this industry. What are the
keys to unlock future success?

B. Why is this project important?


Companies and customers developed sciences of marketing to have a deeper
understanding on the world we live in. It is all about exploring and finding the right data
in the right environment that could enlighten a bit of our complex societies.

1. Why is the study of online dating specifically important?


It is important for both a psychological/consumer behavior and economic perspectives
because the two are undoubtedly linked:
We know from Kim and Mckenry (2002) that marital status has a strong effect on
psychological well-being, and that fulfilling relationships with others is one of the
strongest predictors of happiness (Baumeister & Leary, 1995).

Happiness, however influences dramatically the lifespan of individuals if they


experience a subjective well-being (up to 10 years to sadder counterparts according to
Diener and Chan (2011). In their 2011 paper Happy People Live Longer: Subjective
Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity, Diener and Chan claim:
The effect sizes for SWB and health are not trivial; they are large when
considered in a society-wide perspective [].It is perhaps time to add
interventions to improve subjective well-being to the list of public health
measures, and alert policy makers to the relevance of SWB for health and
longevity []
Happiness itself has a proven effect on economic productivity (Oswald, Proto, and
Sgroi, 2015), and the correlation has been demonstrated to be reciprocal lower
happiness does impact productivity negatively.
In a very recent joint press release from The World Health Organization and The World
Bank, we can read that depression and anxiety disorders cost about $1 trillion every
year but:
Every US$ 1 invested in scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety leads
to a return of US$ 4 in better health and ability to work, according to a new
WHO-led study which estimates, for the first time, both the health and economic
benefits of investing in treatment of the most common forms of mental illness
globally.
We can easily identify here a powerful virtuous loop and lever affecting different areas
of our society.
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However, we can note the lack of integral review of current knowledge complying both
business analytics and psychological background identifying consumer concerns
(safety, engagement into new experience, reliability) and their expectations toward
this service industry.
We can also spot the scarcity of translation of academic research and findings into
practice and pieces of advice for marketing managers

Therefore, the goal of this thesis will be to go through a consumer behavior-based


literature review, in order to have some clear insights on the actual scientific
breakthrough. Then we will focus on the analysis of the market of this industry. To
conclude, we will try to unlock the keys for success/adaptation of this market and
eventually give recommendations for the future, considering the upcoming saturated
and mature situation coming ahead.

In short, we are seeking to unravel the situation, and identify the prevalent assets of
online dating apps and websites to be able to advocate reliable pieces of advice and
open a discussion about what will be the open doors of such subject of study.

C. Expectations and methods


In the first place, we will go through a scientific literature review in order to highlight
what marketing implications we can learn from the research done on online dating.
We will then have a general overview of the market to increment the paper with some
business and marketing concepts such as branding and other strategies.
Finally, the last chapter will be dedicated to inferential and descriptive statistics
performed on data collected thanks to the quantitative online survey trying to accept the
following hypothesis:
H1: People using online dating are on average more comfortable with technology
This would enable to forecast future demand depending on technology usage.
H2: Number of apps/websites used by men > Number of apps/websites use by women
This would help analyzing the differences within the targeted groups.
H3: Tinder users mean age < people who have never used Tinder age
This would prove the brands efficient positioning and clear message.

II.

Literature review

In this literature review, we are going to talk about the main characteristics of online
dating websites and consumer behavior in order to have a deeper insight on users
comportment and discover more about this special industry.

A. How different is Online Dating (OD) form Traditional Dating (TD)


1. Points of Parity
People access to the environment they choose to interact in/ search for a mate in.
As in more conventional dating contexts, where certain people might prefer to
meet somebody through a religious organization rather than at a dance club or
vice versa, online daters might prefer the culture or brand at some sites more
than other. (Finkel et al., 2012)
People in both environments have inaccurate self-perception, not necessarily because
they are lying, but because they have an erroneous vision of themselves. This
phenomenon called the Foggy Mirror effect illustrates the notable differences between
the self-perception and the assessment made by others in a positive or negative way
(Ellison, Heino & Gibbs, 2006).
In consumer behavior, we can identify different selves.

Consumer online are even more likely to experience this effect since their profile
represents a kind of Personal Front window (Henry Warring & Barraket, 2008).
People engage in a strategic self-presentation and counterbalance their desire to selfmarket with a more accurate (yet more positive) version of who they really are (Ellison
et Al., 2006, Whitty, 2008, Power and Kirwan, 2014).

2. Points of difference
As soon as the individual has created its profile, we can identify a major divergence
between online dating and offline dating. The difference lies in the fact that, in the
offline dating environment, people cannot display a very detailed, almost tangible
presentation of themselves for other persons searching for a match to look at any
moment of day and night (Eli J. Finkel1, Paul W. Eastwick, Benjamin R. Karney, Harry
T. Reis, and Susan Sprecher, 2012).

Furthermore, this online profile is exposed, once created, to thousands if not millions of
other users to see, compared to the much more reduced number of people the consumer
will eventually run into and be considered as prospects.

We identify another major point of difference between the two forms of dating by the
fact that online dating reverses the information collecting process: in offline dating, the
person will gather cues and information about another person after the face-to-face
meeting happens. The exact contrary happens in most of online dating cases: the
consumer will first have access to voluntary displayed information about the other
person and after only, a face-to-face encounter might take place.

B. Is online dating the online store for dates?


Compared to offline dating, and because of the access to such a large number of
potential partners, a phenomenon of objectification of the person has been unveiled in a
recent study (Heino, Ellison, and Gibbs, 2010).

This same study the authors put into light the fact that the bigger the choice, the bigger
the wish to find a more perfect mate basing the choice on a perfect mix of features
and referring to this occurrence as relationshopping making reference to the behavior
engaged in a supermarket.

Online dating websites offer quite a special service because it is based on human
relationships, that is why is it easy to compare each identified steps with the consumer
buying process or (EKB model) established by Engel, Blackwell and Kollat back in
1968.
The figure below assesses the comparison.

Figure 1 EKB model applied to customers use of online dating website

C. Online dating: an environmental evolution


Online dating reached several segments, but most of them have in common the use and
adoption of new technologies.
The pace at which people adapt to technologies and new concepts comes from a variety
of situational factors and/or psychological factors.

Let us take the example of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans) community. Nonheterosexuality has and still is in some countries- been considered an illness or a
deviance. Before internet, this community only had limited choices when it came to
meeting other non-heterosexual persons (bars, clubs). Because of those limitations,
the new trend of online dating has rapidly been taken over by this community in which
35% claim being online is crucial for their acceptance (according to a survey
conducted by Out Proud in 2000). ORiordan and Phillips (2007) claim that queers
were among the first to realize the potential of this new technology [] As an
associated press story put it in the early days of the web its the unspoken secret of the
online world that gay men and lesbians are among the most avid, loyal and plentiful
commercial users of the internet

We can note that some clusters like those that the one cited above represent innovators,
in other words some segments of the population will have a faster and quicker adoption
of new trends and services; which represents an opportunity mainly for start-ups since
their strategy lies on a quick and intensive growth from the start.

D. Online dating is a logical sequence of the changes of our societies


At a time were people get married at an older age and engage themselves into serious
relationship later in their lives because of several factors like longer lifespan, easier
access to high education and the fading of the patriarchal pattern within families (inked
to more female rights), Finkel et al. (2012) explain:
[] Many factors contributed to this trend (cf. online dating),[] which
resulted in singles seeking partners after leaving the mate-rich environments of
high school and college; a growing dependency on media for information in
general and for mating information in particular []
and make a reference to the change from an industrial economy into a service economy
which led to the commercialization of all those kinds of acts that were previously
performed by family members or friends. (Ahuvia and Adelman,1992).

Social acceptance also had a major role on this industry because stigmatization of the
users have, for a long time, led to a slow ongoing growth until today, when people are
relatively more open minded to this sort of activity. Nevertheless, a stigma still exist
despite of the growing number of users as off line daters still judge online daters more
negatively than their off-line peers (Dan, 2010).

A Pew Research Center study observes those changes in perception and judgment
towards online dater/dating in a quantitative survey (N=2,252) showing the differences
in attitude between 2005 and reproducing the survey 8 years later.
The results show an increased positive feeling toward online dating: 44% of the
respondents claimed, Online dating is a good way to meet people in 2005, in 2013
this number increased by 15% reaching 59%; back in 2003, 47% of the persons
claimed, online dating allows people to find a good match, in 2013, 53% thought so.
Results also show that the negative attitude declined from 29% to 21%: 8% less people
think that people who use online dating are desperate (Smith and Duggan, 2013).

We can attribute these changes to many factors but according to the recent technological
breakthrough, we can plea on the favor of technology being the biggest predictor of the
online dating growth phenomenon.

As stated before, online dating is the logical result of environmental evolution. Some
persons are risk averse and are less likely to try new things until proven reliable, tested
and approved. We can see differences on the use of technology according to this same
fact. Rosen, L. D. et al. (2007) illustrated this in their survey about human behavior and
computers comparing the attitudes of two groups (online daters vs traditional daters).
When asked about their feelings about technology, 47% of online daters answered, I
am eager and one of the first to try new technology. Only 27% of the traditional daters
responded to the same question.

Traditional daters seem to be more timid towards technological innovations in general


by claiming by up to 42%, They are willing to try new technology only after it has
been tested and approved.
People aged 18 to 24 years old represent the segment being the most familiar with
technology.
When asked what particular their generation has compared to previous generations
(generation X and boomers), the highest ranked question was technology use which
confirm this segment is very well aware and distinct from the others about this
particularity.
The millennial generation and its distinctive way of life is an abundant subject to which
we attach many trends, creating a web of influences on these individuals behaviors.

For example, we can link ties with the fact that, at the age of 18 to 28, 42% persons that
were born between 1946 and 1964 (boomers) were married. Today, only half of this
number is reflected in the millennials generation.
The wider access to education postponed the age of marriage by changing lifestyles and
priorities (Andrew Kohut, et al. 2010) and probably participated to the growth of online
dating.

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Despite of the fact that so-called millennials are by far the heaviest user group of
portable technology (and/or technology in general) we can see a positive evolution in
the use of online dating website in the older segments.
According to an online survey conducted by the Pew research center, the percentage of
people aged 18 to 24 using an online dating website or app has triple from 2013 to
2015.
Nevertheless, we can also point out that while the trend stayed constant for the 24-34
(22%), the share of 45-54 and 55-64 years olds using this technology has almost
doubled. We can probably attribute this change in the acceptation and spread of
technology, even in older segments, that require more time to adapt to change.
Technology had a significant impact on our lives, disrupting our off-line habits,
[]. In the USA in 2015, total media usage through mobile app has increase by
90% compared to 2013 (621,410 min in 2013 and 778, 954 min in 2015). The
leading segment being the millennial generation spending more than 90 minutes
using apps by month on average(Lipsman, 2015 on the 2015 US mobile
report).
In addition, as the use of mobile platforms has largely increased and younger segments
are both heavy and numerous users of online dating app, having an efficient app store
optimization1 strategy is very important for the companys visibility. Half of
smartphone users learn and discover about applications by just browsing the app
platform like the AppStore or Google Play, but word of mouth and top app ranking
positioning are also important. (Husson and Carlton, 2013).

E. Self-market in the online dating environment


Several studies explore how consumers present themselves on dating websites and the
impact of various factors on the chances of success (we refer here to any romantic
outcomes) and the attractiveness of the displayed profiles.

We can spot a difference between genders; men seem to be heavier users, which can
make us think they are more compulsive buyers in some kind of way. According to an
experiment conducted by Hitsch, G. J., Hortasu, A., & Ariely, D. (2010a) men
1

ASO, App store optimization: the mobile and application version of search engine optimization on
platforms like Google, but instead on application downloading platform such as the AppStore for
IOS.

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browsed three times more profile than women browse and were about 40% more likely
to start a conversation with someone online.
This type of experiments could be a useful basis to instore a price discrimination
strategy for men like price premiums to capture the extra demand and convert heavy
free user into paying user (giving unlimited access to profiles by paying) or entry fees
for males in websites were the gender ratio is unbalanced.

It seems obvious that profiles without a picture are less attractive to online daters. Fiore,
Taylor, Mendelsohn, & Hearst (2008) showed in a regression analysis that the photo
attractiveness predictor (betas .72 for male and .87 for female, p value < .001) mostly
explains a profiles attractiveness model; which supposes that the lack of physical cues
would lead to a big handicap in the dating pool.

After the pictures, often comes a zone of free text where people can write something
about themselves, this represents the second strongest predictor of the attractiveness of a
profile (Fiore, Taylor, Mendelsohn, & Hearst, 2008). Both text and picture can give
implicit and explicit cues (Goffman (1957), it all depends on the individual and its
motivations now.
Explicit cues, represented by information displayed on ones profile usually differ a bit
from the reality. Hitsch, Hortus, & Ariely (2010) conducted an experiment using a
representative sample of 21, 745 dating websites users and compared what was on their
profile with statistics from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
By comparing the data, we can observe that women using dating website seem to be
slimmer (3 to 15lbs lighter) than the national average and men seem to be about 2
inches taller than their offline counterparts are.

By nature, humans have a tendency to take more or less seriously their self-presentation
to others depending on the underlying motivations and current situation. Online dating
websites and apps represent a very competitive environment for the users and the bigger
the competition, the bigger the effort to make you look good or better than the rest of
the dating pool and as a result, have more success in the search of a mate.

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However, those efforts might lead to what is typically referred as deceptive selfpresentation in psychology, which suggests that there is a difference between reality
and online self-presenting. Experiments often assessed those differences, notably one
from Toma, Hancock, and Ellison (2008) comparing data from self-reported features
and observed features on a sample of 80 online daters. The study showed that men were
more likely to engage in this kind of behavior than women were. Approximately 8 of
10 (81%) of the participants lied on at least one of the observed characteristics.

Although this may sound like pure psychology, it is important to note that this behavior
might generate deception over the fact that users look different on and off line; this
question of accuracy of profiles is deeply linked to dating websites/app trust and the
success of it on the market.
Indeed, there are so many players in this industry, that the switching cost is very low in
terms of money, a bit higher in terms of time and setting up the profile, which motivates
movement across brands and a lower involvement towards a limited number of
websites.

When we talk about accuracy and trust, people seem to give more credibility to paid
websites. This is a behavior we can attribute to the perceived quality/value according to
the price (empirical evidence shown by Robert A. Peterson in his experiment called
The Price-Perceived Quality Relationship, Experimental Evidence (1970).

We can affirm that online dating website users seem to be modifying their data in their
advantage, as if a marketer would rearrange a little bit the reality to make its product
more valuable in an advertisement for example.
Like a store, people display their best features in their front window/ profile, and
inhibit the features considered as undesirable.

That is why the websites have to give the opportunity to the users to share their best side
while encouraging them to stay honest on their statements.

F. Assessing the relevancy of the Matching Algorithm through scientific


literature knowledge and digital marketing

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Many scientists have exposed their doubts about the accuracy of the very famous
matching algorithm enabling to reduce the pool of single people to the ones the
consumer has the higher chances of romantic outcomes with.

Online dating matching systems definition


Every website uses a different formula and a different way to match profiles.
Here we are going to concentrate on the ones that actually claim that the matching
algorithm is their differentiation factor of success (match.com or OKcupid for example).
The concept is simple, most of the time; the algorithm is simply a mathematical formula
containing a rank of prevalence for main qualities and percentages of preferences.
For example, OKcupid uses the following:
(Q1%*Q2%*Q3 %....)
Where Q1 is a prevalent quality>Q2%>Q3% etc. (Nath, 2015)
To make the results a bit more accurate, the websites uses a margin of error that
depends on the number of information collected on the questionnaire, just like a normal
data analysis.

To address any opinion towards this new matching tool, it seemed judicious to have a
look at the different findings regarding individual romantic compatibility and
satisfaction.

A large study (n=10 000) conducted by Adrienne Kaufman (2011) explored the links
between the couples ratings of their partners on five main scales defined by the Big
Five* (five major factors of personality established by psychologists) extraversion,
openness conscientiousness, agreeableness and neuroticism with similarities and
marriage satisfaction. This experiment led to the rejection of the hypothesis that people
are happier in their marriage is they pair up with a person that has a similar personality,
and showed that 66% of the time individuals are more likely to be with someone with a
different personality than their own.

We refer as the famous method used by websites, as Match.com or eHarmony.com as


algorithm but it is also interesting to evaluate the relevance of the personality test in
the first place. As stated before, 66% of people are more likely to match with someone
with a different personality.
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Rosen, L. D. et al. (2007) address in their experiment conducted on 559 persons the
differences between online dating and traditional dating and the impact of different
factors.
In a questionnaire answered by the individuals, we can observe that from the online
users of the sample, only 17% claimed the personality test of the website was very
accurate about their personality, 30% simply think the test was fun to take and 62%
thought the test was somehow accurate about their personality. Based on those
answers; we could think about the level of accuracy of the matching algorithm
according to the fact the data collected would somehow be biased. Not the majority of
users think the test is very exact, in the first place, so consequently the results will not
be as accurate as in a perfect model.

However, we can see the usefulness of such an algorithm in treating the data by the fact
that people claim to spend a lot of time per week browsing profiles (up to 5.2 hours),
writing and responding to emails (6.7 hours) for just 1.8 hours of actual offline
interactions. (Frost et al., 2008). By reducing the number of prospects while this same
factor being very high used to be an argument in the pre-purchase behavior can reduce
the pain of searching through millions of profiles, especially that the respondents of this
study claimed this process was aversive.
Finkel and al. 2012, actually points out the fact that the deluge [cf. of messages] can
cause users to disengage from the process rather that revel in it.
The idea that we see appearing here is that quantity is not a sign of quality, to the point
that quantity can actually become a negative predictor of the use of online dating
websites or apps.

Furthermore, as a natural sequel of the fact that people are not totally (consciously or
unconsciously) either objective or honest about their personal features (see: Self-Market
on the online dating environment, page 13), and the paragraph above, we could doubt of
the use of a self-proclaimed matching algorithm.

However, times have changed and websites are accessing much more information than
what people would like to reveal with the use of digital marketing. This is when Google

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enters the arena. The worlds biggest search engine represents an unevaluable source of
data; to measure how enormous it is, we could check those facts:
- We would need to turn 1,2 million trees into paper in order to print the 24
petabytes of information Google processes everyday
- 1, 2 zettabytes of data is stored in the whole world, which is roughly the
equivalent of everyone posting something on Twitter nonstop during 100 years
(Google by the numbers: Just how massive is Google, anyway?)

When people use Google, they agree that their information will be stored, analyzed and
shared with commercial third parties in order to propose adapted advertisements and
other services.

Google analyzes your online behavior and records information about users.
- Your exact location

and journeys: by using Google Maps you share your

location and can even save some places as home or workplace, but also, if
youre using it on your smartphone, chances are, you enabled the app version of
Google Map to follow every step you take with your device in the pocket.
- Your implicit preferences and the subjects you mention often thanks to Gmail.
In fact, automated software screen and mine the content of your inbox to search
for malwares in the first place, however this same screening is used in order to
propose you more accurate commercial proposition online and better search
results
- Your main interests and everything you search.

The most transparent way to know what is stored about what you search is obviously
the search history of your search engine.
Yet, google and its hosted websites know a lot more thanks to the use of cookies or
server based analytics. Server based analytics enable to track information such as visits
and unique visitors, visits duration and last visits, days of week and times, country of
user, pages views, entry and exit pages, file types, OS used, browser used, keywords
used to find site, http status codes etc.

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All this data is noticeably important but the use of data mining or web data mining
makes it even more meaningful.
In 1999, Herman T. Tavani in his publication Informational privacy, data mining, and
the Internet defined this technology as the following:
In its broadest sense, data mining is the process of (A) finding patterns or
correlations in the data (e.g., records) stored in large databases and (B)
analyzing that data from different perspectives, categorizing it, and summarizing
it into useful information. Some computer scientists further distinguish between
data mining and the knowledge discovery in databases (KDD) process.

So what does it mean? What we are trying to allude here is the fact that the online
dating platforms probably know a lot more that what the user think and that the use of
the so-called algorithm might be tight up to the digital marketing technologies discussed
above.
Let us say that user X claimed while building his online dating profile- he preferred
brunette republican women aged 35-45. Odds are that if this user X keeps browsing the
profile of blonde democrat women aged 55-65, the online dating platform will probably
be proposing more adapted profiles according to user X online footprint and
underlying/unexpressed preferences.

So, is the algorithm just pure data mining?


This raises as well the data protection issues as the conclusion drawn by data mining are
not communicated to the person it concerns and before its used for various purposes.

G. Limitations of online dating websites in terms of consumer behavior


As mentioned above, we can consider the online dating like a purchase process instead
of a relationship with the following steps:
Need recognition information search alternative evaluation purchase decision
post purchase behavior.

This last step [post purchase behavior], compared to the other ones; stay relatively
unmeasurable to the extent that what happens after the first face to face encounter
between two online daters happens offline, and slips out of the hand of the marketers.
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Even though websites use different techniques to offer the best service to their
customers, they do not have a full control about how things are going to happen when
offline meeting will take place. Some things are just not measurable or foreseeable like
intimate compatibility, the quality of the conversation and if the relationship will work
on the long run.

To spot where the dating websites start to lose control over what happens between the
two users, the 9 steps of online dating previously identified by Finkel and al. 2012 (p12.
Fig2) have been reestablished and developed:

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Figure 2 : Finkel and al.s 9 steps of online dating readapted

As a clarification, on step 2, factor 4, we talk about choice of brand, and this is an


important detail online dating websites should put the emphasis on.
On this market, the brand will reflect the consumer as each brand often have a clear
positioning that will stick to the user as well.
The following chapter assesses the importance of branding.

The best outcome for the user is not often the best outcome for the company because a
customer that is in a relationship is a customer that will not use the website anymore.
Companies have a challenge here, especially the ones that are not free: what should they
propose to the users that have found a mate? Several options seem to be possible
answers to this question:
- Proposing to freeze the signed-up plan; that is to say proposing the option to
erase temporarily the account to the user and paying or not a fee to reactivate it
if the relationship is not successful.
This will enable the company to increase its retention rate.
- Push former customers for which the relationship(s) has(ve) been successful in
order to increase word of mouth and popularity.
Do not forget that a happy customer can transform into your best advocate.
- If the relation has not been successful, websites should ask for feedback and
work on the post-purchase behavior by reassuring the user claiming the website
have other profiles to propose.

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III.

The mosaic market of online dating

Online dating represents a source of wealth both directly by constituting a strong


growing market and indirectly by affecting the populations well-being as seen in our
problem statement paragraph.

Many factors influence the use of online dating platforms: political reasons such as the
penalization of adultery or homosexuality, social reasons like religion and family
structure as much as the economic stage of the country can be decisive on the success or
failure of such activities.

On the first chapter, we have been reviewing the consumer side of online dating; now
we are going to review the different offers of the market to understand the composition
of the service proposition and understand this service industry.
A. The Market of Love in a nutshell
In the U.S, the online dating industry yields more than $2 billion of turnover each year;
driven by a 5% annual growth since 2010 according to the NASDAQ, which is roughly
what the fast food chain, Wendys is worth in 2016.

A report by one of the biggest digital data reporting company (Global Web Index)
claimed in 2015 that there were 91 million users of online dating apps and websites
worldwide.

In order to have a better insight on the market and identify potential opportunities
and/or pitfalls, we are going to look over the market under the form of case studies.

1. Multi attributes perception map and main categories


With more than 5,000 websites and apps worldwide, the market is really diversified and
competition is harsh, to say the least.
The figure below displays a multi-attribute perception map in order to give an idea of
how diversified the offer is in this industry.

21

Online dating multiattribute perception map

Ourtime

Niche Market Veggiedate

SugardaddymeetJdate

Relationships

Ashley Madison

Traditional

Match.com

Happn
Okcupid Meetic

Modern/unconventional

Tinder
Hornet

Hook-ups

Mass Market

Location based

Grindr
Same-sex

Figure 3: Multiattribute perception map

As we can see, the set of choice is wide, as there are categories and subcategories. Here
are some examples:

a. Niche markets
Based on lifestyle: Veggiedate.com for vegetarian and vegan persons.
Based on hobbies: Hikerspassions.com for people passionate about hiking
Based on religion: Christianmingle.com for Christians
Based on sexual orientation: Bicupid.com for bisexual singles
Based on age: Seniormatch.com for boomers and people over 50
Based on the type of relationship sought after: setformarriage.com (marriage focused),
Suggardaddymeet.com (to find a sugar daddy/sugar baby).

b. Mass markets
Mobile format: Tinder, Grindr, Happn Hornet, Blendr, Whiplr, Her, Tikkitalk
Computer format (mostly): Meetic, Match.com, eHarmony, eDarling
Fremiums: Tinder allows you to browse profile for free, however, in order to have more
options (likes to give in 24 hours), by subscribing to the $2,99 Tinder Plus extension.
22

Paid websites: Elitesingles.com (up to $79,99 per month), Match.com ($29,99 a


month).

B. Case studies
1. Match Group Inc, the big player
Match Group Inc leads the market and owns up to 45 brands and particularly the most
famous ones: Tinder, Plenty of Fish and Meetic.
This group is itself owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, a $848.7 million revenue listed-instock-exchange company ("IAC Misses Sales Estimate On Declines In Publishing,
Search")

In our opinion, the factors of success of this company are the following:
- Diverse positioning and complete portfolio
The fact that the company owns so many brands is the choice of a very clear mass
marketing strategy. The group wants to place it pieces in many different or very similar
markets in order to capture volumes to transform it, later, into values (user conversion
into paying customer).
- Consistent branding yet brand-adapted communication and marketing
When we look at the logos of the group they all seem alike (colorful, simple) however,
the online dating industry is a good example on how the demand for a same service or
product can be diversified: not everyone is searching for the same thing.
That is why Match Group Inc. opted for branding strategies to stay consistent. For
example, the fact that the niche online dating websites are grouped under the same
brand

format:

asianpeoplemeet.com,

babyboomerpeoplemeet.com,
latinopeoplemeet.com,

and

catholicpeoplemeet.com,
interacialpeoplemeet.com

etc.

increases brand equity by becoming a sort of reference in peoples mind and is a goof
example of brand extension.
A smart use of brand extensions enables faster customer awareness and willingness to
try, lower perceived risk and is a quality indicator.
Here, we could easily chose the very famous dating app Tinder, the mobile-only
platform with a fun Swipe-right for yes, swipe-left for no profile browsing has appealed
the younger segments (16 to 30 years old). The format was so widespread and trendy,
that hundreds of other app copied it for other purposes. We can now find apartment
23

hunting apps (Skylight), food delivery apps (FoodNow) and even an app to pick a
babys name using the swiping method.
By being the parent brand of the indecently popular mobile dating app Tinder used by
about 50 million persons word wide (Smith, 2016), Match Group Inc. is minimizing the
losses of the other brands.
In fact, the groups impressing results reached $268 million of the biggest revenue for
Q4FY2015 (representing a 15% growth) but closed the October-November period with
26% lower profits. ("Match Group Inc. (MTCH) Q4 2015 Earnings: Tinder Is Growing
But Revenue Falls Short Of Expectations")

Tinder impressive strategy led the acquisition of 1 million paying users according the
Time Magazine.
Tinders growth in revenue increased by 24% (Reuters, 2016) thank to the conversion
from free to paying users, which is the biggest struggle of this industry nowadays.

2. Ashley Madison, the most controversial


Ashley Madison, a Canadian online dating website marketed for married persons
wishing to find someone to have an affair with is one of the most controversial and
popular websites out there.

The website owes its very wide popularity and its 32 million users worldwide to a
marketing strategy based on provocation and the use of guerilla marketing.
The brand advertises on what people would need the most in a situation of adultery:
discretion and secrecy; and this is exactly why, in 2015, the 60 gigabytes of information
hacked from the data had the effect of a bomb on the online dating market.
Millions of users private information was unveiled to the public, as well as credit cards
numbers and personal/professional email address of people who deleted their profiles
and even paid an extra fee in order insuring it would erase their data from the internet.
This caused a major outrage, and put on the table the question of confidentiality and
data protection on these kinds of platforms.

24

3. The Asian rising stars and the (expected) odd one out
About 6 months ago, the New York Times was publishing an article about China being
the loneliest country in world with single population of about 200 million, which
represents 14% of the most populated country of the planet.
Moreover, the one child policy created a big gender gap; as of today, there are 118 boys
born for 100 girls.
To top it all, young Chinese are often put under pressure to get married before turning
30.
Jiayuan.com and baihe.com, the most popular dating websites in China are taking their
chance in a market estimated to reach $478 million in 2016.
TanTan; Tinders Chinese homologue just reached 2,5 million users in May 2016
(China: Tinder-esque app TanTan gets $32m in funding as it hits 2.5m users,
Theasiancorrespondent.com) mostly composed of generation Y members.
However, the app already shows a risky behavior by not encrypting its users data,
which could lead to data leak, exactly what happened to Ashley Madison.

We can identify attractive opportunities in the Chinese market providing that the firm
wanting to develop there have enough international knowledge to adapt completely
and/or improve the already existing format in order to catch the new upcoming demand
represented by youngsters.

On a side note, other emerging markets are also increasing their use of online dating
websites, as the segment of young workers with busy lives increases with economic
growth and especially in India, where social media are taking over the internet.
Since September 2015, Tinder have captured the demand and enjoyed a 400% growth in
downloads in a few months. Woo, an interest-based app has grown by 50% in the last
three months and finally TrulyMadly, has attracted 20% more of female users in the
past 6 months which is a real revolution in a patriarchal culture like India. (Mathur, A,
2016. 'Indian Woman don't date' What?! Women react to ICCR travelers guide,
Hyderabad Times)

To finish, we think there is something particularly interesting in the countries like


Mexico, Brazil, South Africa or Indonesia: Jana, an American mobile internet company,
conducted a poll where 1,500 people aged 18 to 30 years old had to choose the websites
25

they have already used to find a romantic partner claiming the abundance of users was
good.

4. Marketing implications
In a very saturated industry, it seems like the key of success lies in the innovative and
interactive formats in developed countries.
Tinder for example has been able to leverage a good insight on how the life of the
generation Y population was like instead of going blind folded in an already overloaded
market.

We can see that converting free users into paying customers is a challenge that many
companies have a hard time overcoming, but is vital.

According to the observations we can make, it appears that users are more willing to
switch to a paying version of their favorite websites or app when the price is seen like a
real upgrade not the price to avoid imposed restrictions.

In other words, for optimal results in establishing a freemium strategy; the free version
of the website has to be already very complete and usable without obvious limits, and
the paid version has to display optional yet attractive options that are not mandatory.
As an example, Tinder Plus gives access to useful features (unlimited likes among other
things), and applies a third degree price discrimination (people above 30 have to pay
more). This enables the brand to catch profits and keep their target strategy clear (by
screening people under 30).

The countries to target in terms of volume of users and internet traffic are emerging
markets with a growing need and space for new culturally adapted concepts.

We highlighted the fact that China was an interesting market insofar as the existing
models could be improved with regard to data security and online protection for users.

Finally, an underlying need is showing up in developing countries such as Indonesia,


South Africa, Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, Vietnam etc. The fact that many users might
be using mainstream social media like Facebook or Twitter shows that the existing
26

platforms in those countries do not completely understand what the needs are yet. More
research is needed in order to have a successful entry strategy in those countries. We
could advice to start-ups for example to perform a factor analysis and cluster analysis in
order to identify the differences of needs and preferences among those populations.

Having a deep knowledge on the culture and habits of your foreign-targeted market in
order to adapt the features of the app/website (Glocalization2 strategy) is the main
success factor. Indeed, entering the market at the right time, that is; when the population
is ready is also the key to success.

However, the survey made by Jana emphasizes the most important factor: human safety.
Many respondents, when asked what were their thoughts on online dating replied, that
is an attractive concept but it could be very dangerous.

Rapid economic growth in former undeveloped countries can overshadow human life
conditions. Which is why, insuring some sort of safety/regulation online should be one
of the main objectives and could be transformed into a large competitive advantage for
apps/online dating websites wanting to exploit those segments.

Glocalization: contraction of the words Globalization and Localization referring to the


adaptation of a globally produced good or service.

27

IV.

Research methodology, analysis and results


A. Methods

For this research, a quantitative online survey we performed across several countries.
This ad-hoc survey has been completed by a self-selected sample (non-probability
convenience sampling method) of n=127 composed of 57,8% (n=74 M=26,69 SD=6,66)
of females and 41,9% (n=53 M=27,79 SD=7,77) of males so the research design is
based on primary data and we assume our sample follows a normal bell shaped
distribution.
The questionnaire used for data collection was composed of 4 sections:
- Section 1: The Evolution of Online Dating
Presentation of the survey and first general questions about online dating (for all the
respondents)
- Section 2: Your experience in the Online Dating environment
This section was accessible for the respondents who have used or are currently using an
online dating platform only.
- Section 3: Your opinions
Section based on more specific questions implying projections and preferences
(accessible to all the respondents).
- Section 4: Demographics
Home country, age, gender, marital status, income and education level.
We used different types of questions, 7 points Likert scales, rankings for ordinal data
and multiple choices for nominal data and all of them were mandatory.
We processed the total set of data (6489 with the help of IBM SPSS Data analysis
software.

B. Hypothesis, analysis and results


1. Descriptive data analysis
Demographics
As said before, the mean age of the female group is lower than men in this sample,
which means our female respondents, were on average younger than their male
counterparts but we had more answers from them.

28

19 countries were represented, with European countries being the most present: France
33,3% (n=41), Spain 27,6% (n=35), Ireland 3,9% (n=5), Netherlands 3,9% (n=5),
Germany 3,9% (n=5) but also the United States with 10,2% (n=13).
The sample was almost equally separated between workers (49,6%) and students (48%)
with a minority of unemployed persons (2,4%).
When it comes to the highest education level completed, we can find that 13,4% of
them have reached a High School Diploma, 37% a Bachelors Degree and 48,8% have
reached a Masters degree as well as 1 (0,8%) Ph.D.
The large majority of the respondents (66,9%) claimed their income was less than
$25,000. The mean age increases as the income increases. The younger respondents
(M=27,70)are the one who have the lowest income of the sample with a lower standard
deviation (4,64 years) showing this group (<$25,000) is homogeneous).
Lastly, we have 41,4% of respondents that are in a relationship and about the same
proportion that is single (44,9%), then comes 9,4% of people that are married, 2,4% in
an open relationship and 1,6% of divorced. People in a relationship as well as the
singles and the ones involved in an open relationship are younger in average than the
both married and divorced respondents.

2. General descriptive and exploratory research


a. Age and technology use
The first question of the questionnaire was How comfortable do you think you are with
technology using a Likert scale.
When comparing the mean of ages and the questions score, it appears that the younger
respondents are more comfortable with technology, and as the mean age increases, the
comfortability score lowers (1= Not comfortable at all; 2=Very comfortable).
The mean age for the point 3 on the Likert scale is 32 years old while the one for the
point 7 (highest of comfortability scale) is 26,82 years old.

In order to know how reactive the respondents were to innovation and their attitude
towards it, we asked them to select among 5 statements, what was their general reaction
when it comes to trying new things. Once again, it appear that younger respondents
(M=26,4 years old for N=30) are more reactive and claim they are always the first ones
of their friend and family group to try them, compared to their older peers that prefer

29

waiting for new things to have some experience then trying them (M=28,6 years old
for N=10).

As a result of these observations, we decided to make a cross tabulation of this question


with Have you ever used an online dating platform? and as implicitly expected, 70%
of the persons who claimed they were always the first ones to try new things have used
an online dating application or websites. This number lowers as the statement chosen
imply waiting more time before starting to use something new.
In order to verify these statements, we conducted an independent sample T-test with the
score of the Likert scale previously mentioned and the question Have you ever used an
online dating.
The result that came out showed that the mean score of comfortability with technology
was higher for the people who have already used an online dating platform (6,09) than
the one of those who never used one (5,74). The significance level of 0,02 with p<0,05
indicate that what we have found in the sample can be applied to a larger population and
that we can accept the first hypothesis.

b. Use of online dating across gender, age and habits


Our respondents had to answer the following question: What would motivate you to
use one and 25,2% answered just to try; 22,8% Because I am bored, 20,3%
Because I want to find a romantic partner for a long term relationship, 14,2% For
sexual-related reasons and finally 11% answered Because my friends use them.
If we take a closer look to the repartition of the genders of this question, it appears that
83,3% of the individuals who chose For sexual-related reasons as an answer were
men.
29,7% of female respondents claimed they would use it just to try an 24,3% Because
they are bored.
We could think people would use it because they are bored and become it has become
like a game. In that case, the success of Tinder and swiping methods in general would
come from the gamification and low involvement of the service.
Everything that looks like a game automatically becomes a little less serious and more
fun, that could explain as well as the growing popularity for the smartphone formatsuch popularity.

30

In this sample, 78 of the total 127 respondents have ever used an online dating website,
which represents 61,4% from which 56,4% were females and 43,6% were males.
When asked if they would use it to find a long term relationship, 51,3% of the person
that have already used an online dating platform said yes while 73,5% of people who
have never used those before, said they wouldnt use it for that purpose.
This was computed as a cross tabulation and the results shown a significance level of
0,006 for a confidence level of 95% and a Cramers V value of 0.244 which means that
there is a moderate relationship between the fact that people use or not those platforms
and the projection they make about their eventual use of it.

For other statements, the two groups seem to have the same opinions:
Both group would use it to find friends with benefits (several sexual encounter with the
same person), 53,1% for those who have never used these technologies and 55,1% of
those who did.
Oddly enough, in our sample, a short majority of both groups wouldnt use or havent
used it to find a one night stand (only on sexual encounter with the previously unknown
partner) 55,1% in average.

Now let us take a closer look to those who have used it.
From the 78 respondents that have already used online dating, only 28 are currently
using it.
If we cross the results with the marital status, we can see that there is an obvious and
redundant relationship that we can apply to a larger population (Cramers V value of
0.551 and Sig. 0,000) between the facts that people stop using the websites or apps
when they start a relationship. 89,3% of the persons that are still using online dating are
single and 62% of the ones that stopped using it are in some kind of a relationship
(open, married taken into account).
We can link this to the readapted 9 steps of online dating we shown on the literature
review, showing explicitly the limitations of this service: if the customer finds a mate,
its not the best outcome for the company; however there are some options cited that
could help close the loop and increase the retention rate.
As a precision, the platforms that use connections through Facebook or Google might
be the victim or a more volatile use because of the set up easiness and low cost of
switching in terms of time.
31

A 45,3% of the current or past users only use or have used one website or application,
22,7% use two, 21,3% use three, 6,7% use four and 3,9% use or have used 5 or more.
We performed an independent T-test in order to discover if there were any differences
between the numbers of online dating platform and the two sexes. The hypothesis was
that men according to the fact they are heavier user than women are (cf. literature
review) would use more apps or websites than their female counterparts (H2)
Turns out this statement is true for both our sample and a larger population (see
figurev4): female in average use 1,89 platforms and men use in average 2,38 platforms.

Figure 4: Independent sample T-Test "How many Online dating apps/website did you use" and "Gender"

We also discovered that the person that would use it for one night stand are in general
younger than person who would not. With a significance level of 0,006, our respondents
who answer they would use it for one sexual encounter (only) where in average aged
25,78 years old, while the others (people who wouldnt) were aged 28,23 years old. We
can claim this finding can apply to a larger population.

The most popular ones were the following:


Tinder 80% (n=60)
Happn 13,3% (n=20)
Badoo 18,7% (n=14)
AdopteUnMec.fr 16% (n=12)
Grindr 13,3% (n=10)
OKcupid 12% (n=9)
Match 6,7% (n=5)
Meetic 5,3% (n=4)
Plenty Of Fish 5,3% (n=4)

Plenty Of Fish 5,3% (n=4)


Hornet 5,3% (n=4)
Planet Romeo 4% (n=3)
EHarmony 2,7% (n=2)
Scruff 2,7% (n=2)
Wapo 1,3%, Once 1,3%
NoPicNoDial 1,3%
BonjourBonjour 1,3%,
Yahoo Personals 1,3%

32

Since Tinder is so popular, we thought it could be interesting to compare the mean ages
of the people who use it and those who do not. The null hypothesis was that Tinder
users were generally younger than the ones that use other platforms.

Figure 5: Independent Sample T-Test "How old are you?" and "have you ever used Tinder?"

As we can see on this table, we can accept the null analysis and claim that we are 95%
confident that on a larger population, Tinder user are on average younger than other app
users.
This reflects Tinders ability to keep their targeting strategy clear (as stated before, they
practice a 3rd degree price strategy in order to keep the older users from using it, by
making them pay more), which is probably well appreciated by the users.

This also works when applied to Meetic.


Meetics implicit positioning is that it is targeting an older segment. Therefore, we
tested this statement to see if the positioning was accurate and adapted.
It appeared that the results were significant (sig.0,001) and indicated that Meetic users
were a lot older (M=40 years old) than respondents who do not use it (M=25,65 years
old).
Once again, the users mean age is a proof of successful positioning.

Finally, 74% of the users have met their online acquaintances in real life.
This number would probably be lower in case of lack of trust in the websites.

c. Use of online dating and opinions


After reading that some people still stigmatize online dating users, we thought it could
be interesting to see what would happen in we asked today, in 2016.

33

Companies of this industry are well advised to make the use of their services look
normal because the feeling of shame, or fear to be judged by others probably impacts
the market, as there must be some people out there stopping themselves from using
them because of others opinions.
Here is the repartition of the answers to What is your honest opinion on online
dating? (127- multiple pre-set choices):
-

30,7% think dating websites are a good way to meet people (n=39)

4,7% think dating websites are helpful to find a good match (n=6)

10,2% think dating websites are for desperate people (n=13)

29,1% think dating websites are helpful to find a quick match (n=37)

0,8% think dating websites stop people from settling down (n=1)

24,4% have a neutral opinion on online dating (n=31)

While there is still a minority having a negative attitude toward the use of online dating,
the majority is open, with positive opinions.
We can point out that there is a strong relationship (Cramers value= 0,417) between the
fact that someone previously used online dating and their opinion in general: with a sig.
of 0,000 with an error margin of 5%, in a cross tabulation of Have you ever used an
online dating plateform? and What is your honest opinion about online dating?, most
of the users who have been using one have a positive opinion.
Something interesting came out, when asked why they would use one of those
services and why do you think other people mainly use it for? everyone seemed to
think the others were having a different purpose in their utilisation:
-

45,3% of the persons that would use/have used websites to find a long term
relationship think that other persons mainly use it for one night stands.

52,2% of the persons that would use/have used websites to find friends with
benefits think that other persons mainly use it for one night stands.

40,6% of the persons that would use/have used websites to find friends with
benefits think that other persons mainly use it for one night stands.

Maybe this could be attributed to the reputation of online dating: our sample seem to
think it is all about sex.

34

Brands offering services for people to find long time partner struggle to get rid of this
sexual-oriented stereotype, by communicating heavily on mass media such as TVs and
radio, companies like Meetic contribute to the normalization of the concept. The wide
spread of online dating is also influencing acceptation; as more and more people have
recourse to it, it becomes more acceptable and normal.

In link with the same subject, we discovered that the mean age of people who strongly
feel like peoples judgement would stop them from using online dating is higher (28,80
years old) than people who do not think this will stop them (23,29 years old) in our
sample. The same thing happens when people were asked to rate on a scale of 1
(strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree) if shame would stop them.
The main reason that would stop our respondents to use online dating is peoples
judgement with a mean score of 5,15, then comes reasons related to self-shame with
a mean score of 5,07, finally, the concept itself (M=4,35) seems more preponderant
than lack of security, that still reach a high score (M=4,03).
Surprisingly, men rated all four factors higher than women did.

Figure 6: box plots showing rating differences between genders

As indicated before in our case studies, data security is key, and even though it was not
the main reason would chose not to use online dating in our survey, it still scores high
enough to be taken into consideration.

35

In an industry referred as relationshopping, we observed that picture quantity seems


to be the most important feature for our respondents, and then comes self-description,
followed by interests and in the last position, picture quantity.
We could advise the different company to make picture standard a priority. This gives
credibility to both brand and users, leads to trust and reliability, which could reduce the
feeling of deception by lowering the number of people fooling other users with
irrelevant or low quality pictures.

C. Limitations of the research


The method used to gather data has an impact on the result. The study does not take into
account the part of the population that does not use internet much, because of the fact
that it was an online survey.
For further research, we would advise to have a paper format of this questionnaire.
As we tried to study opinions and habits, we gathered a majority of nominal data. To
have a deeper insight on this subject, we would recommend the use of scales and
ordinal data in order to go in depth and come up with meaningful inferential statistics.
The sample group was relatively small. In order to have highly accurate results, future
researchers will have to gather larger samples.
The sampling methods were self-selected, so not all the groups are represented.
In the future, we could complete this survey with qualitative research to have a better
comprehension of the opinions and gather data about experiences for example.

36

V.

Conclusion

Throughout this exploratory masters thesis, we first went over the existing litterature
knowlegde and tried to understand these academical research paper in such ways we
could extract some recommendations or observations linked with marketing.

We then reviewed the online dating market, by exploring special subjects under the
form of case studies in order to gain some business knowlegde about what is going on
in terms of economic opportunities, and finally, we tried to have some current insight
from the consumer side and drawing paralleles with previsouly observed facts.

This paper is the representation of how wide can marketing be. The first part was
focused on consumers behaviour and the data overviewed and sources mainly come
from experiments performed the last twenty to thirsty years in the domains of
psychology, anthropology and biology. The second part was purely an analysis of the
market, that is to say, more economy-oriented, with references to financial and business
reports, so we tried to have a company insight compared to the fist chapter. Finally, the
last part was about research and discovery, linking both previous chapters.

We have learned that in this industry, things are in constant change and companies have
to be very observative on what is happening in the consumer s side and markets side
because they are both part of a virtuous loop.
Tinder has been cited many times because it is a success story and has had a
breakthrought impact on the market because other websites were too busy copying each
other.

Innovation and adaptation are key factors in an economic being taking over by a new,
very different generation from the previous one.
Change is often seen negatively but it is often necessary to take risks, especially in the
online dating industry.

Differentiation is what will make the online dating strategy impactful, for example,
Ashley Madison chose to take fully advantage in the very taboo and controversial

37

adultery phenomenon, Tinder chose to concentrate on a fun swiping format, and the
Match Group Inc. to go for the niche market under the same brand umbrella.
We could advise new entrants to target the older segments, because in the few years,
people who know how to use internet and are not reluctant to do so.

Finally, for the company which do not want to enter the already crowded online dating
arena in developped country, the future opportunities seem to be in emerging countries
such as the one cited in our cases study.

38

References
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42

Appendix
A. Results of a regression analyisis made by Fiore, Taylor, Mendelsohn, & Hearst
(2008)

B. Cross data comparision performed by Hitsch, Hortus, & Ariely (2010) to assess
self reported data revelancy about physique

43

C. Opinions about technology from online daters and traditional daters in a


questionnaire performed by Rosen, L. D. et al. (2007)

D. Evolution of use of online dating apps and websites between 2013 and 2016,
online survey made by Pew Research Center

44

E. What makes your generation unique ? Generation classification made by Pew


Research Center

F. Spss outputs

Comparison of mean age to How confortable do you think you qre with technology ?

45

Independent sample T-Test : How many dating platform are you using/did you ever use ?
and Gender ( 1= women 2=man) and comparison of mean How many dating platform are
you using/did you ever use ? and Age

Cross tabulation : Have you ever used an online dating app or website ? and
Gender

46

Crosstabulations : Are you still using an online dating app or website ? and Marital
status

47

Frequencies of the answers of What is your honest opinion on online dating ? and
cross tabulations of What is your honest opinion on online dating ? and Have you
ever used an online dating app or website ?

48

Comparison of means What would stop you from using online dating ? and
crosstabulation of What would stop you from using online dating ? and gender

49

Independent sample t-test displaying the mean of the age of people who use Meetic
F. Questionnaire

50

51

52

53

54