Apr 13 2020
YPulse is carefully monitoring COVID-19’s impact on young consumers and how brands can respond. We’ll be providing new data and insights for you weekly to cope with the crisis, including special reports, exclusive data on Coronavirus and the next generations, and actionable insights on what brands need to be doing now.
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With social distancing being implemented all over the country, one might think that dating has been put on hold. But Gen Z and Millennials had already made digital dating their norm—and quarantine seems has only intensified their focus on dating apps and sites. Bumble and Tinder both reported major spikes in use in mid-March with the biggest increases in locked down cities and countries.
YPulse’s Extended Singledom trend research found that roughly 40% of Millennials stay single from 25-34-years-old, but being in a relationship is still their ultimate goal. And quarantine hasn’t stopped them from trying to meet the one—or at least someone to talk to for a while. Our dating and relationships survey found that pre-COVID, 72% of 19-39-year-olds believed technology has made dating easier, while 66% said social media has made dating easier. Prior to the pandemic, 33% were already using a dating app, but YPulse’s exclusive data on COVID-19 on young consumers found that 14% of 18-24-year-olds say they’ll be using dating apps/sites more during Coronavirus. Though most major dating platforms have added warnings on their services urging users to not meet in real life during the COVID-19 crisis, young people isolated at home are digitally dating to stave off loneliness and boredom during this time.
While many of these trends have started up because of quarantines, the longer the social distancing stretched, the bigger the chances that these will become a permanent part of dating for Millennials and Gen Z. From video dates to live dating events, here are some of the ways that finding love could be permanently changed, even after Coronavirus:
In late March, a quarantine love story began circulating on Instagram and TikTok. A young New Yorker sent his phone number to a woman on a neighboring roof via drone (to the tune of over 30 million views). The first date for this modern day social distancing pair? A romantic dinner—over video chat. And while their story might be more famous than most, they are far from the only ones making video dates a new norm during quarantine. Existing dating apps have been ramping up or introducing new video components to keep users on their services. Match Group’s Plenty of Fish is launching a live-streaming tool to let daters chat with each other in real-time, giving users the ability to search for streams nearby and leave comments as they watch, which can eventually be moved to private messages. On Hinge, a new “Date From Home” feature is connecting young daters who want to stop texting and start video dating. The new tool alerts users whether someone they’re messaging is ready to have a “digital date” over video chat—only sending the date alert when both are on board. Hinge reports that 70% of its members are down for a “digital date,” over a platform like FaceTime or Zoom.
Live (Virtual) Dating Events
Swiping and texting with potential dates has long been a part of finding romance for Gen Z and Millennials, but during quarantine, dating is also getting the “live event” treatment. Meeting in person isn’t a possibility, so the thrill of an IRL meet is being substituted by live virtual dating, in some unexpected ways. One is the brainchild of two NYC roommates who have created their own digital version of Netflix’s Love is Blind reality series. Using cells on a Google spreadsheet, Love is Quarantine and matches up “contestants” who then all participate on a date night where they have calls with their matches and report back on their connections via video. The action is broadcast on Instagram, where fans comment on the matches and dates in real time. During the “second season” (a.k.a. virtual date night) more than 400 “contestants” signed up to be chosen—and now nine seasons have now been completed. While Love Is Quarantine currently plans to continue only through social distancing measures (and are hoping to throw a big party for fans in NYC when it’s over) the idea of virtual mass date nights could be longer lasting. Over on The League, they’ve been promoting their “League Live” feature, which puts participants on three video call dates that last two minutes each every Sunday night at 9pm local time. During the live sessions, a person can “heart” their date partner at any time, and if they mutually like each other, they’ll officially be matched to continue chatting with each other outside of the live event.
Blind Dates Gone Digital
While Love Is Quarantine has an element of a live dating event, its participants are also going on digital blind dates. (The whole thing is inspired by Netflix’s Love Is Blind, after all.) While dating apps have long trended towards giving the option of choice to the user—Tinder allowing you to swipe left on anyone you don’t want to meet, for instance—quarantine dating seems to be bringing back the blind date, a “meet up” where you don’t know much or anything about the other person in advance. Another example is the new dating app Quarantine Together. The text-based platform is, according to its creators, designed “exactly for this moment.” At 6 p.m. every day, the app asks users whether they washed their hands and stayed inside. If they say yes, they are introduced to another user by text—no pictures and no information other than names are given. After 20 minutes, the private text message goes offline, and matched users are offered a link to video chat. There is currently a waitlist to get onto the app, indicating that the desire for these blind digital dates is high.
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