(above) Tinder CEO Sean Rad
Tinder is going global. The Los Angeles-based dating platform took over online dating in the U.S. after it launched in 2012, with its success even inspiring copycat swipe-based mobile apps in everything from fashion to real estate. Today, Tinder is operating in 196 countries, with 26 million matches per day and 1.4 billion daily swipes, according to the company.
But in 2016 the company is taking on its next big international challenge: leading a social revolution in India.
At first glance, Tinder and India may seem like an odd match. After all, India is a country where arranged marriages are still common, while Tinder is all about letting you take an active role in finding a romantic partner. Yet as cultural attitudes change, particularly among the younger generation (18-34) that make up about 50% of the nation's population, online dating is becoming more acceptable. And India seems to be swiping right in a big way.
Tinder launched in India in 2013 and saw some immediate success, particularly among urban youth. But the dating platform's network really exploded over the last year, growing by 400% in India in 2015 alone according to the company. Today, India is already Tinder's top market in Asia and it could soon be its largest market worldwide. The company's success in India also belies its pop-culture reputation as a casual dating app. In fact, its Indian users boast the most messages per match globally, suggesting they are more likely to establish more long-term connections.
Tinder's success in India is certainly an impressive feat. But not surprisingly, the company's strategy in India echoes the company's early success in the United States. To acquire its first U.S. users, Tinder decided to focus on Greek life at colleges. Typically men are expected to make the first move in dating. But Tinder went to women first. The company went door to door to sororities first, and only then did they talk with fraternities. As in the United States, women in India will be key to Tinder's success.
"We've experienced rapid growth organically in India, especially throughout the past year. In addition to Tinder downloads in India increasing by more than 400 percent, one million Super Likes are sent in India each week - with women sending Super Likes more often than men," said Rosette Pambakian, VP of Communications and Branding at Tinder. "Tinder empowers women by giving them the choice to take charge of their lives and not be held back by traditional barriers that prevent them from expanding their social circles."
That's why, on the back of last year's huge growth, Tinder decided in January to open an office in Delhi-the company's first outside of the United States-to focus on growing its network in the India market.
"We have exciting plans for India in 2016 and having Taru on board is a step towards making India one of our core markets," said Sean Rad, Founder and CEO of Tinder. "Our focus in India is on our users. We want to best understand how Tinder fits into their lives and concentrate on local needs while establishing ourselves as a brand and steering user growth and engagement."
With its Delhi base established, the company is embracing its role as an agent of cultural change. It even worked with a local comedy group called The Viral Fever to produce a video about using Tinder. The video went viral and helped establish Tinder as a prominent brand among its target demographic.
"Tinder is actually the brand which has changed and actually impacted the culture very positively," according to the comedy group's founder. "You can pretty much divide India into pre-Tinder and post-Tinder era, where now, women don't feel awkward being on the site.
"Tinder's mission is to empower users to form new, mutual connections," Taru Kapoor, Head of Tinder in India. "We are thrilled and humbled by the feedback we've received from users in India, who have embraced Tinder and its mission. Tinder provides a platform for users to to express their unique identity and forge substantive connections. Each and every new connection we make has the power to shapes us and help us grow - whether it changes our perspectives on life, or helps us learn more about ourselves. It's truly a powerful, universal idea."