In a world filled with different dating apps, there’s only one where consumers can order dating apps and dating entrees. Bumble, known for its women-message-first model for heterosexual matches and for its friend-finding and career networking features, will open its first Bumble Brew café and wine bar on July 24 in New York City’s SoHo neighborhood.
The first iteration of this restaurant was meant to open in 2019, though permitting delays and then the COVID-19 crisis pushed back the launch, giving the concept time to transform. The original idea was that the café would only serve foods that were embarrassment-proof for dates. Now, the company is reframing the restaurant as a place to satisfy customers’ need for social connection.
“Our community clearly had an appetite for a permanent physical location to connect, so we created Bumble Brew — an all-day cafe and wine bar,” reads the café’s site. “We recognize the importance of relationships and how crucial they are to a healthy, happy life.”
The restaurant is created in partnership with SoHo Italian restaurant Pasquale Jones and its owner Delicious Hospitality Group. The restaurant’s opening will begin, because of the labor shortage, with only the breakfast menu. Several days later, it will open for lunch with its Mediterranean-inspired menu and, the following week, for dinner. If the restaurant is successful, the company is considering opening a similar establishment in Austin.
With consumers’ return to public life, many digitally-native brands are looking for ways to engage consumers across channels. As Sam Nazarian, founder and chief executive officer of food technology platform and restaurant company C3 and its parent company SBE Entertainment Group, told PYMNTS recently, “Ultimately, consumers need to be able to ‘touch’ a digital concept for it to last.” He added that, “after a year of social distancing and isolation,” consumers want an experience that “feels much more personalized and authentic.”
For Bumble’s part, this will not be the app’s first foray into branded physical experiences, though it will be the most static yet. The company previously hosted a pop-up event series and networking space, Bumble Hive, in a handful of cities in the late 2010s. As the company’s founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd told TechCrunch, “Our users have shown us that they want to be a part of our brand in a deeper way, more than just using our product.”
It is unclear at this point whether these physical experiences are an awareness generation engine for the company’s dating app or whether the goal is to use the dating app as the entry point to a connected ecosystem of experiences, taking advantage of the opportunity to win consumers’ cross-category brand loyalty in today’s connected economy. It will likely depend on the profitability of these physical activations, but there is a huge amount of opportunity there.
“It’s a super interesting dynamic environment, but I think basically the opportunity to create context-driven commerce in a connected economy is unprecedented,” Payoneer CEO Scott Galit told Karen Webster in an interview. “And I think we will just continue to see the acceleration of these trends in the future.”
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