Please, allow me to put some order in this.
There are probably two things that interest you here. First is how to gain more market share, and second is if and how the national market will grow.
There is no doubt that the international dating market will see a tremendous growth in the near future. If American companies want to expand their activities oversees, they have to make sure that they understand the local culture. Selling dating services is very culture sensitive. It is recommended that the expansion be done by acquisition or partnership, as local companies understand better their markets.
Here in North America, there is room for overall market growth. The most important natural growth factor is the demographics. Some companies target 40+ populations, and there is room to grow in that direction. Moreover, as adolescents reach adulthood, the number of singles willing to use Internet dating services is believed to increase, as this segment of our population is more technology savvy, and have less prejudice for online dating. The 30-40 population replacing the 40+ will also tend to use more online dating services then the actual 40+.
Another reason for natural overall market growth in North America is the trend of change in human relations. Marriage is becoming more and more unpopular, long-term relationships of other kind tent to break more often, people are settling down at an older age, and there is the emergence of the happy and sociable singles, as the stigma of being single fades away.
North American dating market can also grow in another way, which necessitates effort from the actors in this industry. Less then 40% of single and looking Internet users in the U.S. are using dating websites. That means that more then 60% of Internet users, that are in the same time singles and looking, search for love in real life social events, through their social network, around their workplace, at the church, etc. Dating companies have to find ingenious ways to tape this vast reservoir, and to bring daters who don’t use their services to their websites. To reach offline daters, companies rely mostly on traditional marketing techniques, but other non-conventional methods can be much more efficient. This is about connecting with offline dating events.
Another way to attract offline daters to online services is by cleaning up the image of the industry. This is done by reducing member misrepresentation, by making it safer, and by eliminating bad business practices (posting fake profiles, making it hard for people to cancel their services, etc.). Merging online dating services with life matchmakers and relationship &^%$#$^ is also a good idea.
Concentrating on community building can also contribute to attract non-believers. The sense of belonging, and the strength of a community are improved as the interaction between members becomes more diverse, especially if it integrates real life events. The goal is to find ways to offer costumers a rich and meaningful experience.
Specialized dating services also contribute to expand the overall market, as some segments of the population are not enchanted with generic dating sites. We have seen the emergence of many niche-dating sites that cater to rural populations, farmers, gays and lesbians, Christians and active members of other religions and cults, etc.
The problem of gaining market share is a little more complex. Here we go into the finer detail of the dating market patterns. There is no magic recipe, and this field becomes an art. Why some restaurants do better then others? The big pattern is that they offer food, drinks, and ambiance. According to the local culture we can predict more or less how a certain type of restaurant will do in a certain location. But what makes one restaurant be profitable and the other across the street close down cannot be seen from a plane. I leave this issue to others to debate.
Tiberius Brastaviceanu (MS)
Palo Alto, California