Forecast: Online Dating Market Boom

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The online dating boom began in 2000, when around 100,000 early adopters braved uncharted Internet territory and dial-up connections to find love on the World Wide Web. Now, according to a Metaflake study, that number has reached 9.1 million in Britian and shows no signs of stopping. Some market players have estimated that in India this number will hit 115 million in three years.

Globally, the online dating market is estimated to be worth $4 billion USD. Two nations in particular, the UK and India, have seen especially steep rises in the popularity of online dating. In India, 6 million singles have joined dating sites and created a market worth over $130 million USD. In the UK, the online dating market jumped 6% to £170 million.

Metaflake credits the success of online dating in the UK to a few factors:

  • Meeting partners online has been most successful in secular, well-to-do countries.
  • Advertising strategies from rival dating sites have become increasingly aggressive.
  • The British are open-minded and willing to take a chance on online dating.
  • The UK has a "colourful dating landscape" that caters to all needs and interests.

Adam Sachs, co-founder and CEO of Indian dating site StepOut.com, sees similar changes happening in India. "Dating culture in India is evolving rapidly. Changing cultural dynamics like the increase in average marriage age... are shifting the dating paradigm significantly," he says.

These changing dynamics have made online dating a more socially acceptable option for Indian singles. Dating is now seen as a way to develop a close connection with someone before taking a step as serious as marriage. Internet dating services are valued for the convenience and accessibility they provide.

Despite positive predictions, however, it won't be completely smooth sailing for online dating sites. The marketplace is crowded and competitive, and the landscape is constantly changing. Social media sites like Facebook threaten to replace online dating services as they expand.

The growing use of smartphones is also changing the dating industry. Apps with location-based functionality are capturing more and more of the market, and mobile dating services that are simplified, cheaper versions of their online counterparts are increasingly prevalent.

Though the road may have a bump or two, experts predict that the only way is up for online dating. Metaflake's chief executive, Henning Wiechers, estimates that the UK's online dating market will have expanded by another 5% in 2012, and Indian dating site QuackQuack expects the online dating industry to see an annual growth rate of 20%.

For more current statistics on this industry you can read our Online Dating Facts page. To find out more on where some of these statistics come from for this article you can read IBNLive and the Guardian.