As people stay indoors and adopt fierce social distancing methods, the possibility of meeting or dating is near negligible.
But this does not seem to have deterred dating apps in India that are viewing the crisis and the lockdown as an opportunity for their users to find more connections, given that they have a lot more time on hand and will likely feel lonely.
The online dating market in India is dominated by the likes of Tinder, TrulyMadly, OkCupid, among others. User penetration that stood at 2.7% in 2018 is expected to hit 3.2% by 2023, according to online market researcher Statista.
“When people can’t meet in person they still find a way to date. With restaurants, bars, gyms, offices, and entertainment establishments around the world all temporarily closed, people are looking for human connection now more than ever before," Ariel Charytan, CEO, OkCupid said, adding that there have been over 50 million intro messages sent across the world on the service over the last month among daters connecting for the first time.
The fact that users can get to know each other through in-app questions on likes and dislikes ensures you don’t have to go through this isolation period completely alone.
Abhinav (name changed on request) is not as comfortable seeking people out on Tinder as he was under normal circumstances. Working from home and staying indoors all day, the Delhi-based researcher says meeting people was a task, even before the lockdown was announced. But now he looks forward to making conversation though, be it with friends, acquaintances or dating contacts as self-isolation can get tedious.
Solene Paillet, marketing director at Gleeden, an application for married individuals, said online dating has become a beacon of hope for all of those seeking a break. Logging on to the app, meeting strangers or getting to know people you’ve already been talking to better, feels a little like going out to a bar, meeting someone interesting, sharing a drink and talking.
“It’s exactly that kind of "me-time" that people need and get every day without even noticing. We are so used to meeting people, talking to strangers, making new acquaintances for work or leisure, flirting a little, that with all this getting taken away from us, dating platforms have become a primary need," Paillet said.
Subscriptions for Gleeden in India have risen 70%, the upward trend follows other countries under lockdown. The app has been registering longer time spent on the website (1.5 times more than usual depending on the country), longer chat threads (2.5 times longer), an increase in the upload of pictures in both public and especially private albums and in the number of members who are updating their profiles with a new description.
While Gleeden allows profiles, conversations and photos to be protected by latest data protection protocols, other services are also doing their bit to make the most of the crisis.
Tinder has brought out the ‘passport’ feature, currently a paid feature for Tinder Plus and Gold subscribers that will soon be available for free. Members can search by city or drop a pin on the map to begin liking, matching and chatting with Tinder members in a destination of their choice and not have to navigate around their current location, as was the case earlier.
Offline dating, however, remains a challenge for obvious reasons. But that isn’t very unusual even when compared to ordinary times.
Snehil Khanor, chief executive and co-founder, TrulyMadly, said in online dating, offline meeting is typically the last step of the process. On an average, a girl likes 10 profiles of the 100 that she'd check out. 50% of those convert into conversations and only one meeting is planned for every 32 conversations that she participates in.
“I believe as long as we remain in phase two (of the corona outbreak) and practise social distancing, the uptrend may sustain. But if we reach phase three, people will have a very different set of problems on hand and all online social activity may decrease," Khanor said.