Dating Apps Now Want Older, Wealthier Singles (For Their Money)

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Dating apps found their foothold with younger users. Tinder launched on college campuses in 2012, and 90% percent of its earliest users were aged between 18 and 24. It wasn’t chance; it was strategy.

“They thought if this product is successful among that young college demographic, who also happens to be the most social group of people on the planet [and] the least likely to need an app to meet people, it can [work] for anyone,” Tinder spokesperson Rosette Pambaki told Complex.

Tinder’s wager was right, and in the years that followed, it and other apps like it became explosively popular amongst younger users. But times change, and if a company is to survive, it must change with them. The Wall Street Journal reports that dating apps are now welcoming singles in their late 30s and beyond for one simple, but essential, reason: their money.

The League, an elite dating app targeted towards ambitious young professionals, began letting singles over 40 sign up in May, a demographic that was excluded from the service when it launched two years ago. The League’s revenue jumped over 10% when the change was made. People 35 and older now contribute 30% of The League’s revenue, though they make up only 20% of its users.

Why?

Because older singles are more likely to pay for online dating.

According to Pew Research Center and IBISWorld, people age 35 to 44 are more than twice as likely to pay for online dating as 18- to 24-year-olds. They have more disposable income, they know what they want, and they’re willing to pay to get it. The League isn’t the only service hoping to capitalize on an older, wealthier audience.

Dating businesses that began with the “freemium” model are now desperate to monetize their services. Happn, a Paris-based dating app, originally focused on users 18 to 30, but more recently has started targeting users over 30. Happn plans to charge older members more for using the app, a move that may sound discriminatory but has already been successfully employed by Tinder.

Tinder charges users 30 and older twice as much for access to its premium features. Users in their 20s pay $10 for the extra perks; users over 30 pay $20. Many younger daters have indicated reluctance to pay for a service they’ve grown accustomed to using for free, but Tinder’s strategy appears to be working. In May, the company said one million of its users are paying customers, and it expects the number to double by the end of 2016.

It's good news for the business, but is it good news for the customer? Online daters: how do you feel about older singles being charged more for the same services?