Since almost a decade online dating continued to be popular for urban youth in India. Earlier it was just a kind of skeptic fun and a kind of engagement that nobody used to take seriously. But online dating continued to find a matured audience and over time many people just began to see the brighter side of it as they experienced the ease of finding their love life. But, the online dating scenario received a groundbreaking shift with the arrival of native dating apps allowing people to stay connected throughout the day right on their handhelds.
Soon we have Tinder with its fun way of browsing profiles with a just single sweeping gesture. While the love for Tinder continued in cities across India, other dating apps also continued to make their presence felt. Several new dating apps appeared targeting either niche audience or trying to make a presence with unique look and feel. Many of these successful dating apps are actually global giants and in an Indian market, they just adjusted to the needs of urban smartphone flaunting youth and their flirting needs.
Question is, what about India at large? While smartphone penetration in villages and remote areas is steadily increasing, what about addressing the typical love-life needs of youth living beyond the stereotype urban setting? What about a dating app that looks and feels like Indian? Do we have a truly Indian dating app that fulfills the dating aspirations and fantasies typical of Indian people? The answer is no, because most so-called successful dating apps still cater to the Indian youth with the same look, feel and features that work in other countries. At best, they just tweak a little to look Indian but that is far from addressing our dating needs.
We cannot have an idea of what a true Indian dating app should look and feel like unless we know what Indians at large thinks about dating and how they are most likely to prefer it. The conservative social customs and marriage rule coupled up with religious and cattiest constraints make a big constraint for free mixing of both sexes in India.
While on the one hand this constraint prevents dating from fostering as a social practice, on the other hand, this atmosphere where one’s love life is forced to remain secret makes dating apps a lucrative option to pursue one’s desire. Having a dating app on the smartphone can open up a world of connections for a boy or girl even in a remote village.
So, actually, the opportunity for dating apps to foster in India is huge. People having been forced to keep their love life and desires secret for hundreds of years, finally have a chance to break loose with their wishes and expressions of love on their very personal mobile device. The smartphone brought them the ease of indulging in a personal world of their own. But unfortunately, this audience still does not have a dating app designed for them.
Addressing social and ethnic identities and cultures with the extremely localized look and feel is a prerequisite for a dating app to become popular for larger masses. Secondly, certain customs and rituals are always closely associated with the love lives of people in India and naturally the dating app should address certain local occasions and customs in messages and features to give the app a more local feel. Addressing cultural diversity with localized attributes is a big prerequisite for any true Indian dating app.
Let us give some examples. While setting questions to help users provide profile information, you can always include a question about the festivals they like to attend instead of asking them about partying. Instead of asking them explicit questions about sexual practices you can ask them whether they like hugging their date in public. Obviously, such questions will vary when you roll out for your urban audience.
The irony is, as of now a vast majority of successful dating apps only find their audience in metropolitan and big cities where people are already open and quite frank about their love life, sex, and flirting needs. But in small towns and less populated cities, people are more conservative or at least appear to be so. These small cities and towns represent a really huge market where dating apps can thrive and open the door to free mingling of people. Are you ready for a dating app for this untapped market?