Bumble heats up India’s dating scene
New Delhi: Whitney Wolfe Herd is tired of saying the same things all day. But the 29-year-old Tinder co-founder, who is in India to launch Bumble, knows that it’s important for her to introduce the country to what is known in much of the rest of the world as “a feminist dating app”.
Dressed in all white with a multi-coloured stole wrapped around her neck, Herd looks no less celebrity-like than actor Priyanka Chopra, an investor in Bumble and the face of the brand. But Herd, who is also the founder of Bumble, means business.
“India has always been on the radar. It is an important market because there are millions of women here and we are a product built by women to be able to empower women globally, to recalibrate gender and patriarchal standards,” Herd said on Wednesday.
Bumble is a location-based application that allows dating, platonic friendship and professional communication, the last two under branches called Bumble BFF and Bumble Bizz. The standout differentiation in all cases is that in heterosexual matches, only women can make the first contact. Launched in 2014, Bumble has 45 million users in 140 countries. Its revenue and user base is doubling every year, senior executives said. It makes its Asia debut with India.
Most of Bumble’s revenue comes from paid features such as users extending the time they take to respond to a contact beyond the 24-hour period. Herd quit Tinder in 2014 and later filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against it.
Sarah Jones Simmer, Bumble’s chief operating officer, said India is attractive in terms of the moment it is at, especially when it comes to women. “We have this technology that allows them to take on a more meaningful role in the most important relationships in their lives,” Simmer said.
Herd is not looking to compete with Tinder or other dating apps that are currently present in India.
Like the rest of the world, Bumble will first start with the top eight metros of India and then go deeper. The app that is available in Hindi and Hinglish (a combination of Hindi and English) on iOS and Android has made an effort towards cultural localization too. For the first time ever, Bumble has incorporated a religion filter, based on its learnings in India, it will now take the same to other markets.
Other features include mentions of astrological signs, whether the person drinks or smokes and the option for women to only mention the initial of their first names.
According to online market researcher Statista, revenue in the online dating segment in the country is $15 million in 2018 and is expected to clock a compound annual growth rate of 10.5% between 2018 and 2023.
The user penetration that stands at 2.7% in 2018 is expected to hit 3.2% by 2023.
By getting a predominantly female team to interact with women across the country over the last one year, Herd believes they have been able to figure out what women are looking for. This is crucial given that Bumble competes with apps like Tinder, Truly Madly and OKCupid in India.
“We’ve learnt that women are quite similar across the globe. They all have a voice, they all want friendship, respect, opportunity and the ability to be themselves, it’s not nuanced differently in India and America,” Herd said. “It’s been fascinating to sociologically approach the beautiful tradition of India, make sure we don’t damage that but make a positive impact.”
Besides influential brand ambassadors, Bumble will bring out a marketing and advertising campaign in spaces like gyms and bars geared towards its target group beginning next week.
“We are focused on combating misogyny. Other products are driving their business looking for numbers. While those things matter to us, they are secondary. We are coming in with a mission,” Herd said.
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