Everything that is old becomes new again.
In the late 90s and early 00s, matchmaking sites eHarmony and Match.com dominated the world of online dating. They targeted love-seekers in their 30s and older – charging a membership of “$40 to $60 a month.”
Then Tinder came around in 2012 and turned the membership model on its head. Instead of having users pay a premium for a chance at love, Tinder launched a free app and relied on word of mouth for it to spread. With enough “swipes” later, a trend had begun. Tinder quickly grew a younger audience of daters, from “close-knit communities” to “nine million daily active users” and “one million new users a week,” according to the company.
Back in 2015, Tinder first announced they would begin charging users over 30 double than which they change twenty-somethings for a premium version of their service. With the new Tinder Plus, users “under 30 will pay $9.99 per month, while those over will pay $19.99.”
The news was met with some disapproving and skeptical reactions.
An article from Mic.com about the announcement stated, “Tinder is having a midlife crisis”.
Another, from Fast Company said: “But the truth is probably as Tinder claims. Older people looking for love are willing to pay more for the premium app’s flexibility. We’ll see if that holds once the uneven pricing is now public. Because…ouch.”
Fast forward to today and it looks like Tinder’s predictions have come true. As it turns out, older users are more willing to pay for a chance at finding love.
According to Pew Research Center and IBISWorld, “People age 35 to 44 are more than twice as likely to pay for online dating as 18- to 24-year-olds.”
With widespread popularity among “college students and young professionals,” Tinder and other matchmaking startups such as Happn and The League, are now setting their targets on singles older than 30. This is because, of course, older singles are more willing and able to pay.
The League – “a dating app that focuses on ‘ambitious’ young professionals” – just started welcoming users over 40 to buy memberships in May. Since then the company’s revenue has increased 10%. And that number is expected to grow to 35% by this quarter, according to Chief Executive Amanda Bradford.
For Tinder user, Eric Garris, 62, the price tag for older online daters is worth it. “If I’m going to spend time on Tinder, I want it to be the most rewarding that it can get,” he said.
Some younger users disagreed, but it’s uncertain if their opinions might change as they age. “I’m having fun with Tinder’s free app, but not so much that I would pay,” said 21-year-old Stanford University student, Sachie Weber.
Memberships fees make up “the bulk” of revenue for most dating sites. By attracting older users to each platform, the online dating industry should consequentially see an increase in revenue.
As for the benefit for users, it’s uncertain whether pay sites are more effective than free ones at finding you a long-term relationship or more compatible matches. However, according to Pew Research Center, “23% of online daters say they have met a spouse or long term relationship through these [online dating] sites.”
If thirty-somethings and above are more serious about finding a life partner, and willing to pay for it, you could guess that users at least won’t have to worry about anybody leaving the sites.