Tinder was introduced in September of 2012, and since it’s birth has continued to be the most popular dating app by far. In the beginning of 2013, Tinder saw a large, sudden increase up to almost 1 million users (Cook, 2015). Since then, the dating app has not seen any dramatic dips, dropping out of the US App Store’s top-250 only once (Cook, 2015).
Part of the early success in diffusion was due to one of the creator’s, Mateen, idea to introduce the product to those who would be most likely to get the most out of it: college students. In four months, Tinder had 400,000 users. Mateen used the student’s feedback from the beginning months to adjust any complaints users had about the app, especially concerns about fake profiles, a lack of available information, and high costs in term of time and money (De Domenico, 2015). Features such as linking your Tinder with Facebook and making the app totally free to sign up were some of the measures taken to combat these concerns.
Tinder is considered to be an innovation in a couple of ways, first as a product innovation. A product innovation is defined by the Oslo Manual as a good or service that is new or significantly improved by technical specifications, components, and materials or degree of user friendliness and other functional characteristics (De Domenico, 2015). Tinder falls into this because it combines new benefits to the customer, such as eliminating that fear of rejection and taking advantage of locality. People are constantly seeking new ways to connect with one another and update their behavioral habits with new trends and technologies, and Tinder allows them to do so.
Tinder is also considered a service innovation. By providing a link to Facebook, connections are more reliable and comfortable because users can see the links and mutual friends they share with prospective matches. The game component of Tinder, that is, the swiping motion of going through people has a huge impact from a psychological perspective (De Domenico, 2015). Rather than relying on shared interests and hobbies, Tinder instead brings in a new level of mutual liking.
Thirdly, Tinder can be classified as a social innovation. It meets the social needs of users to more easily find new people and build new relationships, again based not purely on a likely compatibility but on physical attraction, an attribute that, while perhaps a bit superficial, can be very important (De Domenico, 2015). This basis for matches makes communication only possible if both parties have swiped ‘Right’ for each other, and relationships are more likely to be stronger and more intimate for couples who are aware of the reciprocal attraction (De Domenico, 2015). This aspect of the app also decreases the fear of refusal, because only those who have matched can message one another, and there’s no question of whether or not that person finds you attractive.
Finally, Tinder can also be included among disruptive innovations, which is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing value market and value network, displacing established products (De Domenico, 2015). It’s simplicity, convenience, accessibility, and affordability rely on its functionality, and the app offers a win-win situation for users. Users cannot see who swiped left on them, and for anyone who has a smartphone (nearly 1.75 billion people), it is incredibly easy to download (De Domenico, 2015).
Today, there is an estimated 50 million users, 10 million of whom are active daily (Smith, 2016). Tinder has been downloaded an estimated 100 million times, with 10 billion matches worldwide (Smith, 2016). There are over 14 billion swipes daily and 26 million matches daily (Smith, 2016). Of all Tinder users, 54% are single, 3% are divorced, 12% are already in a relationship, 79% are millennials, and 60% of users are from outside of the United States (Tinder is used in approximately 196 countries total) (Smith, 2016). According to this same article by Smith, the peak period for Tinder usage is between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., while the time a user is most likely to see the most matches is 9 p.m. Women swipe right (or like someone) only 14% of the time, while men swipe right 46% of the time (Smith, 2016). Women also tend to spend a bit more time on Tinder in an average login at 8.5 minutes compared to men’s 7.2-minute average (Smith, 2016).
Tinder clearly became very popular, very quickly. But how did this app make its way onto millions of people’s phones so quickly? In 2014, the founders and executive team of Tinder spoke at University of Southern California and shared some of their insights into why they believe Tinder was so successful. The first thing employees did when Tinder launched was focus on organic growth. Organic growth refers to those users who seek to join Tinder based on hearing about positive experiences with the app, versus seeing an advertisement for Tinder somewhere and downloading it based on that (Terry, 2014). This strategy helped them get the “right” kind of people using Tinder, and it was actually found that when Tinder tried to enter a market in Turkey through paid advertisements, the launch was largely a dud (Terry, 2014). Focusing on organic growth also gave Tinder the opportunity to focus more on their core users and refine the app so that people would be more likely to share it with their friends (Terry, 2014).
Another tactic Tinder used was targeting key influencers (or innovators, to use language from the Diffusion of Innovation). Instead of targeting a mass audience, Tinder focused on targeting smaller, tightknit societies with the goal of achieving critical mass within that society (Terry, 2014). For Tinder, this meant targeting colleges, particularly students involved in Greek life. Once Tinder started showing signs of traction in certain markets, the company moved on to targeting celebrities and famous people in order to mimic the growth from college campuses at a larger scale (Terry, 2014). This method allowed Tinder to create self-sustaining networks before moving onto other demographics.
Finally, Tinder’s quick and easy signup is what really gave that extra push toward its popularity (Terry, 2014). As most dating services require filling out a ton of surveys and questions just to create a profile, the fact that Tinder users just have to signup with Facebook comes as a breath of fresh air. Many people aren’t willing to spend 15 to 20 minutes filling out information about themselves, so linking your Tinder account with a pre-existing social media website that already knows most of your personal information makes the signup process easy as pie.
Cook, J. (2015). Tinder’s paid subscription service could ruin everything that made the app great.
Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/tinder-plus-being-tested-in-europe-2015-2
De Domenico, G. (2015). Tinder: It’s How People Meet. Retrieved from https://www.academia.edu/11847269/Tinder
Terry, D. (2014). How Did Tinder Grow so Quickly? Retrieved from https://www.quora.com/How-did-Tinder-grow-so-quickly
Smith, C. (2016). 45 Impressive Tinder Statistics. Digital Company Statistics. Retrieved from http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/tinder-statistics/5/
Smith, J. (2015).Tinder’s Business and Operating Models #ItsAMatch! Retrieved from https://rctom.hbs.org/submission/tinders-business-and-operating-models-itsamatch/