Dating Disruption — How Tinder Gamified a business

Dating Disruption — How Tinder Gamified a business

Tinder’s user that is gamelike enticed over looked users, resulted in fast 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 dating application industry from the inception to its phenomenal shakeout shows that Tinder changed the overall game — quite literally. As with other cases of industry interruption, dating app upheaval illustrates that newcomers want to compete by changing noncustomers into customers instead of challenging incumbents when it comes to established conventional market. Although rising technologies may enable newcomers the chance to overthrow incumbent rivals, our studies have shown that changing the consumer experience for the overlooked market part, perhaps not technology, is key success motorist for industry disruption.

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Dating apps, including eHarmony,, and OkCupid, originated as desktop-based dating sites into the dot-com age and transitioned to mobile apps following the iPhone ended up being introduced. These apps dominated the industry along with their first-mover benefits and large individual bases. Given that they had more users, these incumbent platforms offered users a greater possibility of finding a suitable partner. They even emphasized algorithms that are matching that have been constantly refined utilizing sufficient information collected about their client bases. Brand brand brand New entrants, with little client bases and not enough historic information, struggled to get a good small share for the market as legacy brands dominated the industry.

Enter Tinder, an application that changed the industry to be the essential popular relationship software just a couple months as a result of its launch. (See “Market Share of mobile phone 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 the technical point of view, Tinder initially paled in comparison to other apps, plus it usually crashed. Two key facets underpinned Tinder’s sudden success: emphasizing teenagers, an overlooked market part; and launching brand brand brand new gamelike features, such as for example swiping and adjustable benefits, which altered the consumer experience and paid down usage barriers for the reason that certain part.

share of the market of Mobile Dating Apps in the us

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

Many educational research has revealed that, U.S. teenagers had been less likely to want to fulfill dating lovers online weighed against those who work in older age ranges, the essential regular users of desktop-era internet dating solutions. By drastically changing the consumer experience, Tinder surely could transform a sizable number of brand brand brand new users, penetrate the formerly ignored young-adult part and shake the industry up. Starting, the quantity of young on the web daters exploded. (See “Percentage of online dating sites App customers by Age Group.”) Users 18 to 24 years old saw the greatest enhance in development price — an astounding 170%. In only couple of years, the portion almost tripled in dimensions, evolving from an ugly niche in to the biggest online dating sites segment.

Portion of Online Dating Sites App Customers by Age Bracket

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This graph shows the portion of users of internet dating apps (both desktop and mobile) by generation (whenever Tinder launched) when compared with couple of years later on.

Adjusted from Pew Analysis Center.

Unlike incumbent competitors that collected and relied on a lengthy a number of individual choices to determine matches, Tinder centered on look. Its quick, frictionless matching process allowed users to quickly show good curiosity about 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 web web internet web sites, including Hot or Not and also 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 vast success is the phrase swipe right, now embedded in millennials’ language and tradition.

Tinder’s Original ‘Fun’ Dimension

To raised know how competing apps place by themselves 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 critical subjects mentioned in the reviews, representing the item proportions that many impress users both adversely and absolutely. 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 exactly just just exactly how badly it does into the technology measurement. Due to the fact figure shows, Tinder’s users described the app to their experience utilizing terms pertaining to “fun” a lot more than twice (2.5 times) normally as contending dating applications. Statements like “The software is excellent and super entertaining, however it is exceptionally glitchy as of this stage” are extremely typical in Tinder reviews but notably missing from reviews of former incumbents. Some reviews declare that the application provides an entertaining experience by itself: “It’s something to complete whenever you’re bored.”

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

So What Can We Study From Tinder?

The essential mistake that is common and founded businesses make is concentrating an excessive amount of on individuals who are presently eating an item, in place of understanding why particular individuals ignore it. Effective market entry means, first of all, distinguishing a distinct segment perhaps perhaps not optimally offered by incumbents and understanding exactly exactly what obstacles keep users of that part from utilizing products that are existing. When you’ve identified those obstacles to utilize, it is possible to effectively design something to conquer these hurdles and deliver an user experience that is new.

The key motorist of effective interruption is really a byproduct of conquering such obstacles: the explosive expansion of this niche as nonconsumers increasingly become customers. Usually, incumbents find it difficult to react to disruptive startups mainly because newcomers target completely various segments which are in quick expansion. Which was the full situation for young adults and internet dating before Tinder. a comparable instance is Airbnb, which desired to quickly expand the marketplace for cost-conscious individuals traveling during top seasons in the place of wanting to take on big resort chains with their main-stream clients.2 Airbnb paid off consumption that is key with this formerly niche portion by giving instant matches, also in high-demand durations, and an evaluation system that may increase trust between strangers.3 Numerous Airbnb users might not have consumed lodging solutions at all without this brand new consumer experience.

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exactly exactly How industry incumbents should respond to interruption continues to be a available debate. One of the more popular techniques therefore far happens to be purchases of troublesome newcomers, such as for example Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram. Match Group, an internet holding business, now has stakes much more than 45 dating businesses, including OkCupid, lots of Fish, and — plus bulk ownership of Tinder.

As a result of its aggressive purchase strategy, Match Group presently dominates the web dating market. But, as we’ve shown, an incumbent’s market dominance can rapidly plummet if a fruitful disrupter places an underserved customer portion and decreases usage obstacles for that part. Whom may be the second 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 Business 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.