Fruitless search on online dating?
In this interesting research conducted by Frost, Chance, Norton, and Ariely (Duke University and Harvard Business School), inefficiencies of current dating platforms are revealed in simple numbers: On average, online daters spend 7 times as many hours screening profiles and emailing potential partners than in actual face-to-face discussions.
Spending 11-12 hours a week to search and email vs. less than 2 hours to actually interact? That’s not only hard to believe but really, quite sad in my opinion. Needless to say, the average satisfaction level for online dating lagged behind offline dates significantly (on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10=Very satsified, online dating averaged 5.5 vs. 7.0 for offline).
I agree that part of this comes from the fact that people don’t have time to search/email potential dates. More importantly, however, current online dating model does not provide a good way for people to evaluate one another in a meaningful way. In fact, most important criteria that respondents considered when evaluating partners were “experiential” criteria that could not be judged through standard online profiles. When asked about important criteria in a mate, people often cited factors such as “person who can understand me”, “maturity”, “willingness to compromise”. This reminded me of an interview ex-CEO of eharmony, Gregory Waldorf, gave on Huffington Post. In answering the question ““What are the universal qualities” that people across different countries and cultures look for in a mate?” He said,
“You hear some version of the following statement [from men]: “I want to be appreciated for whom I am and be with a woman who’s not going to try to change me.” That’s a really common statement for guys. Women universally, in all countries we go to, are looking for men who are dependable, reliable, and good communicators—someone who tells the truth.”
How are you going to find that out from online profiles! No way. This is why I think the current focus on matching algorithm among online dating sites is somewhat pointless. Filtering out matches for users is necessary, but only up to a point. After that, the focus should be all about “How do we help the users learn about their potential dates more deeply but faster?”
As we design Coffee Meets Bagel, this is the ultimate question we keep in mind. We don’t think the answer to delivering a valuable online dating product to users is about having more users, more choices, or more ways to contact a person. We don’t believe that dating boils down to this kind of numbers game (contradictory to what a lot of industry analysts or venture capitalists believe).
Til the day online dating doesn’t require fruitless search!