An analysis of the U. As in other cases of industry disruptiondating app upheaval illustrates that newcomers need to compete by transforming noncustomers into customers rather than challenging incumbents for the established mainstream market.
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Although emerging technologies may allow newcomers 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. Get monthly updates on platforms, digital leadership, digital transformation, and ethics.
Dating apps, including eHarmony, Match.
These apps dominated the industry with their first-mover advantages and large user bases. Simply because they had more users, these incumbent platforms offered users a higher probability of finding a suitable partner. They also emphasized matching algorithms, which were continually refined using ample data gathered about their customer bases.
New entrants, with small customer bases and lack of historical data, struggled to gain even a slight share of the market as legacy brands dominated the industry until Enter Tinder, an app that transformed the industry to become the most popular dating app just a few months after its launch in In fact, from a technical standpoint, Tinder initially paled in comparison with other apps, and it frequently crashed.
Numerous academic studies show that beforeU. By drastically changing the user experience, Tinder was able to convert a large group of new users, penetrate the ly ignored young-adult segment and shake up the industry. Beginning inthe of young online daters exploded.
In just two years, the segment nearly tripled in size, evolving from an unattractive niche into the largest online dating segment. Unlike incumbent competitors that gathered and relied on a long list of personal preferences to establish matches, Tinder focused on appearance.
Its fast, frictionless matching process allowed users to quickly express positive interest in others by swiping right like or negative interest by swiping left pass based on user photos. This gamelike experience, where users browse and like or dismiss others, resembles rating game sites, including Hot or Not and the first iteration of Facebook Facemash. To better understand how competing apps position themselves in this multidimensional, competitive dating app landscape, we undertook a text analysis of a large body of user-generated reviews. We identified the six most important topics mentioned in the reviews, representing the product dimensions that most impress users both negatively and positively.
We confirmed through statistical analysis that apps scoring high in the fun dimension experienced faster growth than others in the young-user segment.
This correlation is notably absent in the adult segment, where incumbents offered sophisticated matching algorithms to target users seeking lifelong relationships rather than fun app experiences. The most common mistake startups and established companies make is focusing too much on people who are currently consuming a product, instead of understanding why certain people ignore it.
Successful market entry means, first and foremost, identifying a niche not optimally served by incumbents and understanding what barriers keep members of that segment from using existing products. The key driver of successful disruption is a byproduct of overcoming such barriers: the explosive expansion of the niche as nonconsumers increasingly become consumers.
Traditionally, incumbents struggle to respond to disruptive startups because these newcomers target totally different segments that are in rapid expansion. That was the case for young people and online dating before Tinder.
A similar example is Airbnb, which sought to rapidly expand the market for cost-conscious people traveling during peak seasons rather than attempting to compete with large hotel chains for their mainstream customers. How industry incumbents should react to disruption is still an open debate. Match Group, an internet holding company, now has stakes in more than 45 dating companies, including OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, and Match. Thanks to its aggressive acquisition strategyMatch Group currently dominates the online dating market.
Who might be the next Tinder?
Niloofar Abolfathi niloofarab is an assistant professor of strategy and innovation at Vienna University of Economics and Business and a visiting assistant professor at National University of Singapore. Simone Santamaria is an assistant professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at National University of Singapore.
After 9 years of launching over 31 internet startups, executives of conbee.eu, an online dating software company, have literally met their love matches, hence key executives have decided to sell their online dating division in a fire sale starting march 22st,
Zervas, D. Proserpio, and J. Parker, M. Van Alstyne, and S. Norton, First time here? Summer Issue. Related Articles.
About the Authors Niloofar Abolfathi niloofarab is an assistant professor of strategy and innovation at Vienna University of Economics and Business and a visiting assistant professor at National University of Singapore. References 1.
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