As the Covid-19 infection rates decline is yet to be seen in the majority of countries around the world and people are staying indoors and isolating, dating apps are seeing an influx of new users.

Despite previous predictions expecting online dating to take a hit from the pandemic as a result of people not wanting to risk infection by meeting with strangers, the number of smartphone dating app users in the US alone is forecast to reach 26.6 million this year. This translates to an 18.4% increase from 2019. According to data company Apptopia, the top 20 dating apps in the US have gained 1.5 million daily active users this year.

According to a dating service Match Group, whose portfolio includes Tinder, Match.com, OkCupid and Hinge, amongst others, there was a surge in usage across all demographic groups.

Usage levels for younger users and females remained above pre- Covid levels. Usage among older demographics and males, which initially declined with the onset of the pandemic, has recovered and has now also exceeded pre- Covid levels. The average number of Match.com subscribers grew 11% to 10.1 million, up from 9.1 million last year, according to the company’s Q2 2020 results.

Dating apps adapt to pandemic climate with niche matching

Since people cannot meet in person, many have adapted to finding someone online instead. In a time where one has to socially distance for the betterment of our public health, online dating provides an opportunity to connect when social gatherings are currently at a minimum. Dating apps, i.e. Match.com and eHarmony have adjusted their messaging to the current climate. For example, in its recent TV campaign, eHarmony encouraged consumers to virtually meet others, via its app, from the comfort and safety of their home.

Not only the big brands, which are already established in online dating world, are growing. An emergence of niche dating apps have also been observed, which are actually taking some market share away from the “general” dating market. Match.com for example, saw a huge growth in user numbers for its newer mobile apps: BLK for Black singles, Chispa for Latino people or Upward aimed at Christian community.

In the first two weeks of Covid-19, BLK App saw an 18% increase in the daily activity. A further 7 months into the pandemic and it has recorded a 38% increase in activity month over month. Since launching in 2017, BLK has had over 4 million people download the app.

Slower growth for matching apps expected to return to pre- Covid times

While lockdown has provoked a new dawn of virtual dating, it is too soon to state the expected impact on matchmaker’s businesses. With the pandemic forcing people to truly embrace digital when it comes to dating, it is fair to say that dating post-lockdown will look different than it did before.

As the situation hopefully starts returning to normal, dating habits should also revert back to pre- Covid times and therefore the dating apps’ user growth is predicted to slightly decrease in 2021 and level off through 2023.