In an interview with Brand Equity, Priti Joshi, VP – strategy of Bumble, reveals Indians’ online dating patterns in 2020 and the new user trends that will emerge in the category. She also talks about the genesis of the dating app’s new advertising campaign.
What are some of the important user trends that have emerged over the past nine months?
New vocabulary and rules have been formed in the dating rule book where Indians explore virtual dating for the first time and use video dates to get to know one another before meeting in real life (IRL). Bumble had launched video chatting within the app prior to quarantine, but we saw increased usage and extended video chat times once the lockdown began. We’ve seen an increased need for social connections since March. Over 540 million messages have been sent on Bumble in India in 2020.
Slow dating – More than ever, people are feeling a strong desire to build trust online before meeting in real life, leading to more virtual communication. More than 40% of the Bumble global community are slowing down the “get to know you” phase.
The rise of “new dawn daters” – Our recent research revealed that 1 in 2 people on Bumble in India is likely to be a “new dawn dater” – people who are newly single after experiencing a break-up during the Covid-19 pandemic. The biggest driver of breakups was the inability to see a partner (46.45%). 1 in 3 people (29%) also said that the pandemic has exasperated existing issues.
Virtual dating is here to stay – Looking ahead in 2021, 20% claim to be more open to video dates as they head into the new year. People want to feel more secure as they are connecting with one another. At the same time, they want to have fulfilling conversations that could lead to a new relationship, and video chats are proving to be a great way to form these relationships.
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Are there any consumer insights that took you by surprise during this time? Have they helped you shape your marketing strategy in the post-pandemic world?
The pandemic has positively changed the perception of online dating. Now with limited chances of meeting in real life, we have seen our community be creative as they navigate this new virtual-forward world of dating.
To help users navigate the new rules of dating in 2020, we recently launched an integrated campaign encouraging single millennials and Gen Z in India to make the first move and take charge of their dating journeys. The campaign spans across various touchpoints including five unique films which capture different stories of virtual and socially-distanced dating. We have also partnered with influencers across India including Bollywood’s Gen Z star Ishaan Khatter and Tollywood stars – Allu Sirish, Shraddha Srinath and Nivetha Thomas – to support our community to make the first move, to share tips on how people can stay connected and feel strong and safe in those connections during this time.
What features were launched in response to the challenges this year and what’s working for users?
Our recent study shows that 70% of Indians are not comfortable with dating in 2020, but that one in two people are ready to go on in-person dates. To help them adapt, we recently launched new badges that help the community connect better while being socially distant. The new badges give them an opportunity to communicate how they want to date: virtually, socially-distanced, or socially-distanced with masks. With this feature, our community can skip the potentially awkward conversation about how comfortable they are dating post lockdown and what kind of dates they would like to go on through these badges.
Another new feature we launched in response to changed behaviours during lockdown is the ability to record and send audio notes to matches and reply to specific messages within chats. As we saw a 16% increase in messages sent on Bumble globally, nearly one in two chats turned into something more meaningful with a large number of messages exchanged during the lockdown in India, we recognised that we needed to optimise our chat functionality. This is in addition to a 38% increase in usage of voice call and video chat feature following lockdown restrictions. In India, the Bumble community is spending roughly 20 mins on average on Video Chat – which is just short of a coffee date in real life.
In terms of advertising, what’s the focus of the latest brand campaign and what’s in the pipeline?
We kick-started our integrated campaign with two films – ‘For your eyes only’ and ‘A helping paw’, which will be followed by three more films slated to release later this month. Our new campaign centres around Bumble’s core proposition of “making the first move”. The campaign will be further amplified by a variety of out-of-home ads, social content and various influencer activations.
Ahead of the busiest time in online dating, we will be launching a new weekly series called ‘Dating these days’ this month featuring popular personalities such as Neena Gupta, Sanya Malhotra, Kirti Kulhari, Sumukhi Suresh, Sushant Divgikar and Maanvi Gagroo. It features unfiltered conversations highlighting various barriers to dating and other related hot-topics such as making the first move, body positivity and familial matrimonial pressure.
What’s the one key lesson from 2020 – on the personal and professional front?
More than anything, this pandemic has shown us all the power of human connection. We’ve all learned how to show love, compassion, care and happiness towards one another in creative, thoughtful, and virtual ways. We’ve all realized the importance of new and existing relationships.
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