By Gabriel Sanchez
(Bloomberg) — Dating apps are embracing AI and expanding their subscription plans, hoping new premium and discount tiers will court more paying users – particularly Gen Z – as growth slows.
Match Group Inc. has seen “significant demand” for its new weekly subscriptions – the number of UK-based Gen Z women switching to a paid Tinder plan jumped 73% since the April launch, and the boost to Hinge was similar. Match is also exploring a US$500-a-month version, due to launch in the fall. Bumble Inc., which already has a weekly offering, will start testing a premium tier later this year, alongside a cheaper option specifically aimed at Gen Z. Grindr Inc. said its new weekly option is also driving monetisation, and it’s looking at cheaper options and a premium tier.
The premium offerings are targeted at people who want a more curated, match-making style experience. “They feel that the relative value of US$40 or US$50 a month for their special someone feels exceptionally low,” Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd said on a recent earnings call. The cheaper options are explicitly targeted at Gen Z. “If you think about Gen Z, not everyone has disposable income,” Herd said.
Match, the largest dating-app maker, is struggling with a decline in paying users – growth abruptly stalled at the end of 2021 and users have now fallen for three straight quarters. Bumble’s paying users continue to grow.
The dating companies are also looking to generative artificial intelligence to entice users with new features. Bumble sees it as a way to “curate match recommendations,” Match hopes it can help “eliminate awkwardness,” and Grindr sees “new use cases for engagement.”
They’re also tinkering with the apps themselves – Grindr, now facing competition from Match’s new Archer app for gay, bisexual or queer men, plans to build out more adult features in its new web-browser version. Archer is currently only offered in New York City with plans to expand nationwide by the end of the year.
The focus on Gen Z isn’t without its downsides. Match said weekly subscriptions make it hard to forecast subscriber numbers: “It’s newer. It’s harder to manage,” Chief Financial Officer Gary Swidler said on a recent earnings call.
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