Each year, millions of hopeful relationship seekers use online dating sites.
As consumers become increasingly time-poor, technologies develop and the social stigma surrounding online dating dissolves, the more appealing these types of services become.
According to IBISWorld Australia, over the five years through 2014-15, industry revenue is expected to increase at an annual rate of 4.8%. In 2014-15 alone, revenue is expected to grow by 3.9% to reach $113.3 million.
But as the popularity of online dating services rises, the level of competition in the industry tightens.
Original players like eHarmony, RSVP, Match and Zoosk now have to share the marketplace with instant gratification apps like Tinder, Grindr and Blendr.
However, Grant Langston, vice president, brand marketing at eHarmony says competition from apps like Tinder has actually helped his business.
Langston told Business Insider, “since Tinder launched in Australia we’ve seen a surge in subscriptions.”
“The press they are receiving is bringing lots of people to the online dating world, including people that find Tinder isn’t the right choice for them,” he said.
“Globally, this trend has helped us tap into new markets and led to an increase in our membership numbers,” he said.
Although eHarmony couldn’t provide the correlating data, Tinder’s spike in popularity in Australia this year has saw user numbers on eHarmony’s website increase by 20%.
“Today, there are more than 2.5 million eHarmony members in Australia, compared to approximately 2 million this time last year,” said Langston.
In fact, eHarmony doesn’t even consider the casual dating app a true competitor.
“The other players in the space are offering a fundamentally different kind of product than we do,” he said. “Tinder is not a competitor for eHarmony.
“Without disparaging them, it’s easy to see that Tinder has taken the superficial assessment of potential dates to its logical conclusion. With Tinder, your decision to contact a person is based on their photos and one sentence. Now, that’s superficial.”
“Those relationships, marriages and families, if they started on Tinder, will have a very shallow structure underneath them, in my opinion. It’s certainly not built on a foundation of broad-based compatibility.”
Langston said much of eHarmony’s growth over the past five years can be attributed to young professionals.
“In the US, the largest area of growth… has been in the 23-33 age group; Australia has experienced a similar trend,” he said.
“I think younger people are coming to realise that even if you want to date without a goal in mind you’re better off dating someone who is compatible with you,” he said.
“…people are coming to understand that when it’s time to have a real relationship, the idea that you’re going to pop down to the pub and randomly meet a person who is a great match for you in all the ways that are important is… very unlikely”.