Dating Disruption — How Tinder Gamified a business

Dating Disruption — How Tinder Gamified a business

Tinder’s gamelike user experience enticed over looked users, resulted in quick part development, and eventually displaced industry incumbents.


  • Innovation
  • Advertising
  • Interruption
  • Digital Advertising
  • Social Media Marketing

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An analysis for the U.S. mobile app that is dating from the inception to its phenomenal shakeout demonstrates that Tinder changed the overall game — quite literally. Like in other situations of industry disruption, dating app upheaval illustrates that newcomers have to compete by changing noncustomers into clients as opposed to 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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Dating apps, including eHarmony,, and OkCupid, originated as desktop-based dating internet sites into the dot-com age and transitioned to mobile apps following the iPhone had been introduced. These apps dominated the industry using their first-mover benefits and user that is large. Since they had more users, these incumbent platforms offered users an increased likelihood of locating a partner that is suitable. Additionally they emphasized algorithms that are matching that have been constantly refined utilizing sufficient information collected about their consumer bases. Brand brand New entrants, with little client bases and not enough historic information, struggled to achieve a good share that is slight of market as legacy brands dominated the industry.

Enter Tinder, an software that changed the industry in order to become the essential popular relationship software just a couple of months following its launch. (See “Market Share of Cellphone Dating Apps within the United States.”) The software didn’t introduce a cutting-edge matching algorithm to recommend more-promising times to its users, nor achieved it display brand new technology. In reality, from a standpoint that is technical Tinder initially paled when compared to other apps, also it often crashed. Two key facets underpinned Tinder’s sudden success: concentrating on adults, an overlooked market portion; and launching brand brand new gamelike features, such as for example swiping and adjustable benefits, which changed the consumer experience and paid down usage barriers for the reason that particular section.

share of the market of Mobile Dating Apps in america

This chart shows aggregate share of the market as a portion of total software sessions by the anonymous panel of an incredible number of U.S. users.

Many studies that are academic that, U.S. teenagers had been less likely to want to fulfill dating lovers online in contrast to those who work in older age brackets, probably the most regular users of desktop-era internet dating solutions. By drastically changing the consumer experience, Tinder managed to transform a sizable set of brand new users, penetrate the formerly ignored young-adult part and shake the industry up. Starting, the wide range of young on the web daters exploded. (See “Percentage of online dating sites App customers by Age Group.”) Users 18 to 24 yrs . old saw the increase that is highest in development price — an astounding 170%. In only 2 yrs, the portion almost tripled in dimensions, evolving from an ugly niche to the biggest online dating sites section.

Portion of Online Dating Sites App Customers by Age Bracket

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

Adjusted from Pew Analysis Center.

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

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

Tinder’s Original ‘Fun’ Dimension

To raised know how competing apps place on their own in this multidimensional, competitive dating app landscape, we undertook a text analysis of a sizable human anatomy of user-generated reviews. We identified the six most crucial subjects mentioned in the reviews, representing the merchandise measurements that most impress users both adversely and in an optimistic means ukrainian young wife. 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 legacy apps: eHarmony,, and OkCupid.

Our analysis of software users’ reviews verifies the significance of Tinder’s enjoyable consumer experience — and demonstrates exactly exactly just how badly it carries out when you look at the technology measurement. Once the figure suggests, Tinder’s users described their knowledge about the software making use of terms pertaining to “fun” a lot more than twice (2.5 times) normally as contending dating applications. Statements like “The application is fantastic and super entertaining, however it is excessively glitchy as of this stage” have become typical in Tinder reviews but particularly missing from reviews of previous incumbents. Some reviews claim that the software provides an entertaining experience you’re annoyed. by itself: “It’s something to do when”

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

So What Can We Study From Tinder?

Probably the most typical blunder startups and founded businesses make is concentrating an excessive amount of on people that are presently eating an item, rather than understanding why particular individuals ignore it. Effective market entry means, most importantly, determining a distinct segment perhaps maybe not optimally offered by incumbents and understanding exactly what obstacles keep people in that section from utilizing current services and products. When you’ve identified those obstacles to use, you can easily effectively design an item to conquer these hurdles and deliver a brand new user experience.

The key motorist of effective interruption is a byproduct of conquering such obstacles: the explosive expansion associated with the niche as nonconsumers increasingly become customers. Typically, incumbents find it difficult to react to disruptive startups mainly because newcomers target completely various portions which are in fast expansion. That has been the situation for teenagers and online dating sites before Tinder. a comparable instance is Airbnb, which desired to quickly expand the marketplace for cost-conscious individuals traveling during top seasons in place of trying to take on big resort chains with their main-stream customers.2 Airbnb paid off consumption that is key with this formerly niche section by giving instant matches, also in high-demand durations, and an assessment system which could increase trust between strangers.3 Numerous Airbnb users might possibly not have consumed lodging solutions at all without this user experience that is new.

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just exactly How industry incumbents should respond to interruption continues to be a debate that is open. The most popular methods therefore far happens to be purchases of troublesome newcomers, such as for instance Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram. Match Group, a holding that is internet, now has stakes much more than 45 dating organizations, including OkCupid, a good amount of Fish, and Majority plus— ownership of Tinder.

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


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

In regards to the writers

Niloofar Abolfathi is an assistant teacher of strategy and innovation at Vienna University of Economics and company and an assistant that is visiting 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 from the Cellphone Dating App Tinder,” Information, Communication & Society 20.

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