Dating Disruption Exactly Just Exactly How Tinder Gamified a market

Dating Disruption Exactly Just Exactly How Tinder Gamified a market

Tinder’s user that is gamelike enticed overlooked users, resulted in quick portion development, and finally displaced industry incumbents.


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An analysis regarding the U.S. mobile app that is dating from the inception in 2007 to its phenomenal shakeout in 2013 demonstrates that Tinder changed the video game — quite literally. Like in other situations of industry interruption, dating app upheaval illustrates that newcomers want to compete by changing noncustomers into clients instead of challenging incumbents when it comes to mainstream market that is established. The opportunity to overthrow incumbent competitors, our research shows that altering the user experience for an overlooked market segment, not technology, is the key success driver for industry disruption although emerging technologies may allow newcomers.

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Many educational tests also show that before 2013, U.S. adults had been less inclined to satisfy dating lovers online in contrast to those who work in older age brackets, probably the most regular users of desktop-era internet dating services. By drastically changing the consumer experience, Tinder surely could transform a big number of brand brand brand new users, penetrate the formerly ignored young-adult section and shake the industry up. starting in 2013, the true wide range of young on the web daters exploded. (See “Percentage of online dating sites App customers by Age Group.”) Users 18 to 24 years of age saw the greatest enhance in development price — an astounding 170%. The segment nearly tripled in size, evolving from an unattractive niche into the largest online dating segment in just two years.

Portion of Internet Dating App Customers by Generation

This graph shows the portion of users of internet dating apps (both desktop and mobile) by age bracket at the beginning of 2013 (whenever Tinder launched) in comparison to 2 yrs later on.

Adapted from Pew Analysis Center (2016).

Unlike incumbent competitors that collected and relied for a list that is long of choices to determine matches, Tinder centered on look. Its quick, frictionless matching process allowed users to quickly show good fascination with other people by swiping right (like) or negative interest by swiping kept (pass) according to individual pictures. This experience that is gamelike where users browse and like or dismiss others, resembles past score game internet sites, including Hot or Not together with very very first iteration of Facebook (Facemash).1

Sean Rad, Tinder’s then-CEO and cofounder, stated, “We always saw Tinder, the user interface, as a game title.” One way of measuring Tinder’s vast success is the phrase swipe right, now embedded in millennials’ language and tradition.

Tinder’s Original ‘Fun’ Dimension

To higher know how competing apps place on their own in this multidimensional, competitive dating landscape that is app we undertook a text analysis of a big human body of user-generated reviews. We identified the six vital topics mentioned in user reviews, representing the merchandise measurements that many impress users both adversely and favorably. Each topic is represented as a cluster of related keywords, and a relative dimension score is assigned to each app based on the frequency of the keywords in the reviews in the figure “Dating App User Scores by Dimension.

Dating App User Scores by Dimension

These numbers imagine individual scoring across six measurements for Tinder and three apps that are legacy eHarmony,, and OkCupid.

Our analysis of software users’ reviews verifies the significance of Tinder’s enjoyable consumer experience — and demonstrates just just exactly how badly it does within the technology dimension. While the figure shows, Tinder’s users described their knowledge about the application utilizing terms linked to “fun” a lot more than twice (2.5 times) as often as contending dating applications. Statements like “The application is excellent and entertaining that is super however it is exceptionally glitchy as of this stage” are extremely common in Tinder reviews but particularly missing from reviews of previous incumbents. Some reviews declare that the application provides an entertaining experience you’re bored stiff. by itself: “It’s something to do when”

We confirmed through analytical analysis that apps scoring full of the enjoyment measurement experienced quicker development than the others into the segment that is young-user. This correlation is particularly missing within the adult section, where incumbents offered sophisticated matching algorithms to a target users searching for lifelong relationships in place of fun application experiences.

So What Can We Study From Tinder?

The essential mistake that is common and founded organizations make is concentrating excessively on individuals who are currently eating a item, as opposed to understanding why specific individuals ignore it. Effective market entry means, above all, determining a distinct segment maybe not optimally offered by incumbents and understanding exactly exactly what obstacles keep users of that part from utilizing current items. As soon as you’ve identified those obstacles to make use of, it is possible to effectively design an item to conquer these hurdles and deliver an user experience that is new.

The driver that is key of interruption is a byproduct of overcoming such obstacles: the explosive expansion for the niche as nonconsumers increasingly become customers. Typically, incumbents find it difficult to react to disruptive startups because these newcomers target completely various portions being in quick expansion. Which was the instance for young adults and internet dating before Tinder. an example that is similar Airbnb, which desired to quickly expand the marketplace for cost-conscious individuals traveling during peak seasons instead of trying to contend with big hotel chains due to their main-stream customers.2 Airbnb paid off consumption that is key with this formerly niche part by giving instant matches, also in high-demand durations, and an evaluation system that may increase trust between strangers.3 Numerous Airbnb users might possibly not have consumed lodging solutions at all without this brand new consumer experience.

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just How industry incumbents should respond to interruption remains a debate that is open. The most strategies that are popular far is purchases of troublesome newcomers, such as for instance Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram. Match Group, an internet holding business, now has stakes much more than 45 dating organizations, including OkCupid, an abundance of Fish, and Majority plus— ownership of Tinder.

Because of its aggressive acquisition strategy, Match Group presently dominates the internet market that is dating. But, as we’ve shown, a market that is incumbent’s can quickly plummet if a fruitful disrupter places an underserved customer part and decreases usage obstacles for that part. Whom could be the second Tinder?


  • Innovation
  • Advertising
  • Interruption
  • Digital Advertising
  • Social Networking

In regards to the writers

Niloofar Abolfathi (@niloofarab) is an assistant teacher of strategy and innovation at Vienna University of Economics and company and a visiting associate teacher at nationwide University of Singapore. Simone Santamaria is a professor that is assistant of and entrepreneurship at nationwide University of Singapore.


1.S. Duguay, “Dressing Up Tinderella: Interrogating Authenticity Claims regarding the mobile phone Dating App Tinder,” Information, Communication & community 20, no. 3 (2017): 351-367.

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