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Online Dating - UK - April 2009

The online dating market has grown rapidly in recent years as stigma surrounding the industry has deteriorated. However, over the next four years the online dating industry will begin to mature, and growth, although remaining in the double digits, is likely to begin to decline. At the same time, Mintel expects consolidation to increase in what is currently a highly fragmented market. This trend is already beginning to play out with leading French operator Meetic acquiring the European operations of match.com in January 2009. Another core trend has been the rise of free sites, which are generating large user numbers but are failing to monetise them through other means (eg advertising) as well as paid-for sites are.

Meanwhile, competition from free social networking sites is beginning to pressure the industry, with concerns that dating sites could become obsolete. This has yet to happen, as dating sites offer dating-specific services, in the same way that job sites are better for helping people search for work. Still, with a growing array of free options becoming available, paid-for dating sites will continue to have to innovate and improve their services in order to continue to justify their subscription fees. This report therefore examines the question: “is online dating replacing traditional dating in the UK?”

Main report issues:

  • Has online dating really replaced traditional agencies or do they just get more press coverage?

  • Have consumers’ attitudes towards online dating/traditional dating agencies changed in recent years?

  • How has the market changed recently? For example, are more specific agencies targeting particular demographics/leisure habits etc?

  • How has the rise in social networking sites affected the online dating/traditional dating agencies markets?

  • How has the recession affected consumers’ expenditure on dating agencies (online and offline)?

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Table of contents

  1. Issues in the Market

      • Main issues
        • Definition
          • Abbreviations
          • Future Opportunities

            • Virtual dating
              • Mintel Inspire
                • Adding a personal touch
                  • Mintel Inspire
                  • Market in Brief

                    • Looking for love in tough times
                      • Market is growing but also maturing
                        • Free sites making a splash
                          • Online dating embraced by the mainstream
                            • ‘Social Dating’ all the rage
                              • Exploiting the niche
                                • Broadband technology on the rise
                                • Internal Market Environment

                                  • Key points
                                    • The acceptable face of dating
                                      • A move away from traditional agencies…
                                        • …but the web is not without its problems
                                          • Psychometric testing takes off
                                            • Is social networking the future of online dating?
                                              • Facebook out in front
                                                • Figure 1: Ten most searched for internet brands in the UK, 12 weeks ending 3 January 2009
                                              • Exploiting the niche opportunity
                                                • Building on existing brands
                                                  • Three models for media
                                                  • Broader Market Environment

                                                    • Key points
                                                      • Dating industry can take some positives from recession
                                                        • Figure 2: Trends in personal disposable income and consumer expenditure, 2004-14
                                                      • ABs go for freebies
                                                        • Figure 3: Forecast adult population trends, by socio-economic group, 2004-14
                                                      • Targeting ‘Silver Daters’
                                                        • Figure 4: Forecast adult population trends, by lifestage, 2004-14
                                                      • Twenty- and thirtysomethings on the rise
                                                        • Figure 5: Trends in the age structure of the UK population, by gender, 2004-14
                                                      • Single society
                                                        • Figure 6: UK household sizes, 2004-14
                                                      • Internet and mobile access provides the platform for growth
                                                        • Figure 7: British internet penetration at home/work/place of study or elsewhere, by gender, age and socio-economic group, 2003-09
                                                    • Competitive Context

                                                      • Key points
                                                        • Internal competition: Segmentation overload?
                                                          • Where will the future take us?
                                                            • External competition
                                                              • Figure 8: UK forecast online advertising spend, 2007-13
                                                          • Strengths and Weaknesses in the Market

                                                              • Strengths
                                                                • Weaknesses
                                                                • Who’s Innovating?

                                                                  • Key points
                                                                    • The sweet smell of success
                                                                      • If you can’t Match them, join them
                                                                        • eHarmony launches gay matchmaking site
                                                                          • Ramping up security
                                                                          • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                            • Key points
                                                                              • Economic downturn sees an upturn in revenues
                                                                                • Figure 9: The UK online dating market, 2004-14
                                                                              • 2004-07: An initial boom in a young market
                                                                                • 2008 sees growth rate slow
                                                                                  • Rise of the freeconomics
                                                                                    • Continued expansion on the cards, despite market maturity
                                                                                      • Factors used in the forecast
                                                                                      • Market Share

                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                          • Plenty of visits for PlentyOfFish, but has it met its Match?
                                                                                            • Figure 10: Top ten dating sites in the UK by share of UK visits, February 2009
                                                                                        • Brand Communication and Promotion

                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                            • A few key players lead the way
                                                                                              • Figure 11: Advertising expenditure of selected dating agencies, 2004-08
                                                                                            • Word of mouth one of the most effective channels
                                                                                              • Two big spenders on TV
                                                                                                • Figure 12: Advertising expenditure of selected dating agencies, by media type, 2008
                                                                                              • Case study – The Guardian’s Soulmates
                                                                                                • Keys to success
                                                                                                • Companies and Products

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Allegran
                                                                                                      • Datingdirect.com (Meetic)
                                                                                                        • EasyDate
                                                                                                          • Fitlads.net
                                                                                                            • Friends Reunited Dating
                                                                                                              • Gaydar.co.uk
                                                                                                                • Match.com
                                                                                                                  • Plentyoffish.com
                                                                                                                    • Smooch.com
                                                                                                                      • The Dating Lab
                                                                                                                        • Others
                                                                                                                        • Consumers’ Personal Situation

                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                            • Significant singles
                                                                                                                              • Figure 13: Personal situation, January 2009
                                                                                                                          • Use of Online Dating Agencies

                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                              • A quarter of online adults admit their interest
                                                                                                                                • Figure 14: Use of online dating agencies, January 2009
                                                                                                                              • Singles still turned off by online dating?
                                                                                                                                • Figure 15: Use of online dating agencies, by personal situation, January 2009
                                                                                                                            • Perceptions of Online Dating

                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                • Safety concerns abound
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 16: Word association with online dating agencies, January 2009
                                                                                                                                • Couples less judgmental about online dating
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 17: Word association with online dating agencies, by personal situation, January 2009
                                                                                                                                • A pricey pastime
                                                                                                                                  • Figure 18: Word association with online dating agencies, by use of online dating agencies, January 2009
                                                                                                                                • Ain’t it fun?
                                                                                                                                • Online Dating Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                    • Assessing positivity
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 19: Number of positive words/phrases associated with online dating, January 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Online dating stigma still persists
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 20: Number of positive words/phrases associated with online dating, by current personal situation and use of online dating agencies, January 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Assessing negativity
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 21: Number of negative words/phrases associated with online dating, January 2009
                                                                                                                                        • Converting the doubtful
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 22: Number of negative words/phrases associated with online dating, by current personal situation and use of online dating agencies, January 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Consumers’ Personal Situation

                                                                                                                                          • Figure 23: Personal situation, by detailed demographics, January 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Use of Online Dating Agencies

                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Use of online dating agencies, by detailed demographics, January 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Perceptions of Online Dating

                                                                                                                                        • Most popular words associated with online dating, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Most popular words associated with online dating, by detailed demographics, January 2009
                                                                                                                                        • Next most popular words associated with online dating, by detailed demographics
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Next most popular words associated with online dating, by detailed demographics, January 2009
                                                                                                                                      • Appendix – Online Dating Targeting Opportunities

                                                                                                                                        • Positive repertoire word associations
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Number of positive words/phrases associated with online dating, by the words/phrases, January 2009
                                                                                                                                        • Negative repertoire word associations
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Number of negative words/phrases associated with online dating, by the words/phrases, January 2009
                                                                                                                                        • Positive repertoire – detailed demographics
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: Number of positive words/phrases associated with online dating, by detailed demographics, January 2009
                                                                                                                                        • Negative repertoire – detailed demographics
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 30: Number of negative words/phrases associated with online dating, by detailed demographics, January 2009

                                                                                                                                      Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                      • Aldi Stores Ltd (UK & Ireland)
                                                                                                                                      • Amazon.co.uk
                                                                                                                                      • Argos
                                                                                                                                      • Asda Group Ltd
                                                                                                                                      • Associated Newspapers Ltd
                                                                                                                                      • Bebo Inc
                                                                                                                                      • British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
                                                                                                                                      • British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB)
                                                                                                                                      • Channel 4
                                                                                                                                      • Co-operative Group
                                                                                                                                      • Confederation of British Industry
                                                                                                                                      • Daily Mail and General Trust Group plc
                                                                                                                                      • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                      • Freeview
                                                                                                                                      • FriendsReunited
                                                                                                                                      • Government Actuary's Department (GAD)
                                                                                                                                      • Guardian Media Group
                                                                                                                                      • Hitwise Pty. Ltd.
                                                                                                                                      • IAC/InterActiveCorp
                                                                                                                                      • ITV plc
                                                                                                                                      • J. Sainsbury
                                                                                                                                      • Lidl (UK)
                                                                                                                                      • Market & Opinion Research International (MORI)
                                                                                                                                      • Marks & Spencer
                                                                                                                                      • mmO2 plc
                                                                                                                                      • MSN UK
                                                                                                                                      • MySpace.com
                                                                                                                                      • Netto Foodstores Ltd
                                                                                                                                      • Odeon Cinemas
                                                                                                                                      • Office for National Statistics
                                                                                                                                      • Orange plc (UK)
                                                                                                                                      • T-Mobile (UK) Ltd
                                                                                                                                      • Tesco Plc
                                                                                                                                      • The Scotsman Publications Ltd.
                                                                                                                                      • Time Out London
                                                                                                                                      • Virgin Media Ltd
                                                                                                                                      • Virgin Mobile
                                                                                                                                      • Vodafone Group Plc (UK)
                                                                                                                                      • Waitrose
                                                                                                                                      • Wm Morrison Supermarkets
                                                                                                                                      • Yahoo! UK & Ireland
                                                                                                                                      • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                      Online Dating - UK - April 2009

                                                                                                                                      £1,995.00 (Excl.Tax)