App users are flocking to Bumble and Hinge

But that silence came at a cost when Tinder was pigeonholed as a hook-up app. Match’s chief financial officer, Gary Swidler, had to remind investors at a conference in November that many users have met or even married their romantic partners through the app. “People don’t focus on those kinds of stories,” he said. “We want to go out there and try to change that narrative.”

Pinning down what Gen Z wants on a dating app isn’t easy: Gender identity, sexuality, and relationships have become more fluid in recent years.

Tinder’s upcoming promotional blitz comes just as a recession looms. Some Tinder customers have already started restricting purchases of boosts and super likes (which promote a user’s profile and let others know you’ve swiped right on it). These so-called “a la carte” services account for about a quarter of customer sales. (Elsewhere in the dating universe, Bumble customers don’t renew as often.)


Economic storm clouds aren’t Tinder’s biggest immediate concern, however. Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg left the company in August after less than a year on the job because new product initiatives failed to excite customers. Match has yet to replace them, and a nascent plan to launch virtual goods and currencies has been delayed.

“There’s been a shift in the 18-28 year old demographic, with Millennials, who took over Tinder from the start, being weeded out of that cohort by Gen Zers… The fact that payer growth is true is significantly slowing what.” suggesting that the target audience doesn’t see as much value in the platform as it did five or 10 years ago,” UBS analysts told clients last month.

Pinning down what Gen Z wants on a dating app isn’t easy: Gender identity, sexuality, and relationships have become more fluid in recent years. But it’s clear that Tinder needs to do a better job of attracting them, and young women in particular. (Male users are thought to significantly outnumber females on Tinder, which doesn’t reveal the ratio.)


“It’s part of making them feel safer and more comfortable, isn’t it? Reducing bad behavior on the platform is one of them… [and] helping them find the matches they’re looking for instead of just getting swamped,” Match CFO Swidler said at an investor event in December.

Tinder changed the swipe online dating game, but competitors have gained traction by emphasizing qualities like friendliness, authenticity, sex-positivity, and real-world connections. For example, Hinge’s polls, video prompts, and voice memos allow users to reveal more about themselves. The app also forces users to like or comment on a specific part of a profile to encourage engagement. On Bumble, women must send the first message to start a conversation, and the company has lobbied governments to ban cyber-flashing (sending unwanted lewd images).

LGBTQ-focused Grindr took the spotlight in November when it went public via a SPAC, while Feeld was hailed in the New Yorker as a “connection app for emotional maturity” (Feeld was known as 3nder until Tinder launched it in 2016 with the allegation of trademark infringement). A new app called “Thursday,” as the name suggests, is only available one day a week to help users spend less time staring at screens.

Tinder’s efforts to improve the brand appear to be on the right track. A new Relationship Goals feature allows users to describe what type of match they are looking for. nuanced answers such as “long term but open short term” are possible. Last month, Tinder released “healthy dating” guides on topics like consent and how to spot red flags on profiles. The company also plans to offer women a more curated offering to improve the quality of the games.

In short, Tinder has designed a more appealing profile. Now only cautious Gen Z dates need to swipe right.


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Brian Lowry

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