The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused a seismic shift in consumer behavior, as limited access to in-person interaction resulted in massive increase in the e-commerce industry. While staying-at-home has become a lifestyle, increased digital habits influenced all aspects of life, from work, education, to personal life.
The mobile dating app industry rides on this trend as well, with most apps reporting increased sign-up or conversation length. According to Psychology Today, Tinder and other similar apps have published statistics showing a 10–15% increase in use from February to March, along with increases in messages sent. The parent company of over 45 dating brands including Tinder, Match Group, reported an increase in new subscribers of 15% over the quarter, according to Business Insider. Match Group beat its own guidance for the second quarter of 2020, reaching a profit of $103.1 million, and expects to present a $600 million revenue in the third quarter.
“The online dating industry has never encountered such a groundbreaking challenge as physical distancing. Most dating apps have been utilized by users to have short conversations and set up in-person meetings. Obviously, the pandemic has shaken that dynamic,” said Kai Xu, co-founder of Bogoo(布咕), a dating app designated for the young Chinese population living in North America.
According to Dating.com, people are not stopping dating, as only 5% of people surveyed said they were to stop dating altogether in the following weeks. At the same time, Dating.com also found that 82% of singles have started online dating since March. Major players rushed new features to fit the reality of dating in the time of pandemic. Tinder launched its one-on-one video chat feature in July, while Grindr introduced Circles that allows up to 20 users to join group chats on certain topics.
Fast-paced dating apps like Tinder are adapting to the post-COVID age, while Bogoo, in contrast, is designed differently from the start. Since the beginning, the app aims to be “a platform where users can slow down and approach relationship-building in a more holistic way,” said Xu.
The dating platform was founded in 2018 by Kai Xu and Jason Zhao. After years of living in the United States, they realized the urgent need to build a platform for the Chinese population who has a rather specific dating target: their compatriots. “Most of the time we want to date Chinese people like ourselves, because we understand each other, we have the same cultural background, and we don’t have to explain our jokes,” said Jessica Fu, one of Bogoo’s earliest users.
Under the impact of the pandemic, Bogoo, among its counterparts, has also seen an increase in its user base. Since February, the app has seen its users increase by 10,403%. As of August 2020, the app has an Apple Store rating of 4.7/5.
Unlike other dating apps available in the market, even the ones marketed towards the Chinese community, Bogoo focuses on being the app that users can trust- prioritizing quality over quantity. Bogoo introduces a member-screening mechanism based on profile quality and real-person authenticity, to build a high-quality, interactive and trustable dating community.
Bogoo challenges the notion of online dating apps as a quick, dispensable way of finding dates by encouraging users to slow down and take the time to really get to know their matches. “We strive to create an environment where people can be themselves, where their dating app profile is a true extension of their personality,” Xu said.
Bogoo users spend on average 15 minutes per log-in, compared to the nine minutes average on other dating apps, according to a 2018 Badoo survey. This number is achieved through a combination of features designed to encourage users to invest time on their matches: limited, AI algorithm selected daily recommendation, strict profile verification with controlled acceptance rate, integration with third-party applications, and most importantly, ability to mute all other matches to focus on only one match.
“The pandemic dramatically changed the way people interact. In the mobile dating app industry, Bogoo’s offerings make perfect sense for people who are staying home during the pandemic. The app is gaining popularity among the young Chinese population across North America and we will eventually bring the app back to China. We are confident that Bogoo will be an app trusted by users and become the place where incredible stories begin,” Xu closed.