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Pushing into Asia, Match’s “love capitalism” tries to dodge cultural snags

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In the 1990s, cafés and coffee shops sprung up in Indian cities, and made it easier for young people to meet and date in public spaces.

The cultural ideal for middle-class Japanese men in the 1980s was workplace romances with pink-collar workers known as “office ladies.”

Without growing up in these societies, there’s little chance you’d know about these social peculiarities. But these are the niche cultural quirks that Western dating companies have to understand as they enter foreign markets.

Match Group, the world’s largest online-dating conglomerate, and owner of some of the U.S.’s largest dating apps such as Tinder, Match.com, Plenty of Fish, and OkCupid, announced during its first-quarter earnings call that its priority for the future is to continue to expand internationally, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC).

In that earnings report, Match said that direct revenue was up by 16% year on year, a continuation of an upward growth trend. International revenue specifically has also been on the rise. In the same quarter, it accounted for $216.2 million of the $454 million total, or about 48% of its overall revenue.

Average subscribers across all Match apps was up by 16% overall year over year, but the international rate was higher, at 23%. The potential to capitalize on further international expansion is evident–and the company aspires for Asia-Pacific region revenue to make up a quarter of its total revenue by 2023.

Match had a 5% global market share in the digital dating space in 2015, estimates Dan Salmon, an analyst for Bank of Montreal, adding that he expects that share to increase to 12% by 2020. Salmon predicted that stigmas around online dating would slowly decline globally–and that dating companies should add features to their products in these countries that resonate well with users to help them adjust.

And Match is doing just that. In April, CEO Mandy Ginsberg announced an executive team restructure, appointing general managers in both India and Japan “to focus on the market opportunity in Asia and accelerate international growth.” The realignment falls into line with its strategy to assemble dedicated teams on the ground in those countries with superior........

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