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When love and money mix: A look at dating apps winning in monetisation in SEA

Consumers spent a total of US$2.2 billion on dating apps in 2019, according to statistics by mobile data and analytics company App Annie. For Southeast Asia specifically, Singaporeans spent US$7.1 million on dating apps, an increase from US$5 million in 2018 and US$3.9 million in 2017.

When considering all apps, Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel ranked third and ninth in consumer spend among Singaporeans. They were also the top two dating apps in Singapore.

Meanwhile, Malaysians and Indonesians spent about US$5.8 million on dating apps the previous year, with Tinder and Chinese dating app Tantan being the two most popular dating apps in those countries. When it came to consumer spend in Malaysia, Tinder was ranked the fourth most popular app while Tantan came in eighth. Coffee Meets Bagel wasn’t in the rankings for either of these countries.

In Indonesia, Tinder and Tantan were ranked sixth and ninth in consumer spend respectively. Meanwhile, Tantan is the 10th most monetised app in China and has seen about 70,000% growth between 2017 and 2019 globally.

Priding itself as the #swipelife, Tinder ​dominated consumer spend globally​ in 2019, App Annie reported. Meanwhile in​​ Southeast Asia and the wider APAC region, Tinder was​ featured in the top five list of apps by consumer spend ranking. It ranked first in Australia and India, third in Singapore, fourth in Vietnam, ninth in Thailand, sixth in Indonesia and fifth in Hong Kong.

That said, Asian dating apps are rising and in demand in some markets. Japanese apps, ​Pairs (acquired by The Match Group) and​ Tapple, ​are the fifth and eighth most monetised apps globally. South Korean app Azar ​takes the third spot on the consumer spend chart globally.

(Read also: Making a match: Advertising in the world of online dating)

Cindy Deng, MD of App Annie, Asia Pacific, said dating apps have unlocked the keys to monetisation through subscription over the last few years. They are an example of an industry that has provided an in-demand service which consumers are willing to pay for to unlock deeper value, largely displacing previous modes to become the de facto dating tool, she added.

“With the global success of dating apps, it shows that the search for relationships is a worldwide phenomenon. App developers can find tremendous success beyond their home countries if they understand their consumers and can tap into their preferences in each market to build a deeper engagement,” Deng said.

She explained that as more niche apps enter the market, consumers will likely see competition further intensify. This will result in cross-app usage by those looking for relationships beyond love, such as friendships, similar interests, networking and even jobs. “The opportunities for growth and monetisation for dating apps in Asia make the business of dating even more exciting and one to watch out for in years to come,” Deng added.

Dating apps loved by Singaporeans, Malaysians and Indonesians

Besides Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel, other dating apps that made out the top 10 list in Singapore were OKCupid Dating, ​Tantan,​ iDates, Grindr, Momo, Bumble, Tagged and MyDates. Among the other apps that made the top 10 in Malaysia were Dating.com, Blued, Omi, 1024 Live, Grindr, Just Dating, Lamour and Bgcupid. In Indonesia, the other apps that form the top 10 rankings are Bermuda, Dating.com, Lamour, Azar, Meetme, Blued, Badoo and OKCupid Dating.

According to App Annie, more consumers are shifting to the digital sphere to find love, and this will see an array of options via niche apps. Niche apps would include the likes of Grindr (for the LGBTQ community), ​ Single Parent Meet, Our Time​ (for those above the age of 50) as well as Asian apps and apps skewed towards women such as Bumble which is described as an app “by women, for women”. In January this year, ​Bumble ​ partnered with Singapore Tourism Board to launch ​its ​networking and mentoring app Bumble Bizz.

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