Economic Analysis of Hot-or-Not Online Dating Apps
An economic analysis of Hinge’s interface and value proposition ultimately helps us to understand how Hinge attempts to solve some of the issues that online daters face as well as where it fails to be any different from other platforms. At the end of the day, Hinge turns out to be a nice try, but due to the way that men have learned to use it, ultimately isn’t much different from Tinder. Hinge’s success, like other online dating services, is dependent upon direct network effects: Any given user’s utility increases as more users sign up for and use the application.
By hitching its wagon too well established social networking site with centrality like Backbone and encouraging users to recruit friends in order to increase their own utility (I. E. , the number of matches they get daily), Hinge attempts to mitigate the network effects that kill so many new dating sites. This is intentional and smart, if it works: the CEO and creator of Hinge explains, “We’re trying to create the first social dating app?one where you want to tell your friends about it. L The new app hasn’t solved the network externalities problem yet, though; as one person reviewing it
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In this case, a bigger network is definitely better: assuming that you get 10 matches a day, you’d rather that your matches come from a pool of 10,000 than from a pool of 1,000. In economic terms, large networks are thick markets: one has lots of options, and users are much more keel to tint what they are looking tort. Because Hinge utilizes your Backbone account, it attempts to reduce the amount of cheap talk that usually occurs on dating sites. Everyone knows that people exaggerate?and sometimes even outright lie? when they create their online profiles.
Men magically become 2 inches taller; women suddenly appear 10 pounds lighter. Because Hinge creates your dating profile for you from your Backbone profile?grabbing your name, your occupation, the things you’ve liked, and a number of your pictures?and doesn’t allow you to edit these hinges, cheap talk is theoretically eliminated. What you see and read should really be what you get. Smart. By introducing you only to the matches you’ve indicated that you like, APS like Tinder and Hinge are also meant to reduce search costs.
Hinge takes reduction of search costs one step further than Tinder does by pairing you with friends of friends rather than with random strangers. The idea is to enable you to spend less time communicating online and more time meeting in person so that you can hurry up and figure out whether or not you’ve found someone worth dating?or even marrying. This sounds interesting, and even promising; however, from talking with a number of women who have signed up for and used Hinge, their matches are leading to no conversations at all.
Whys that? Women tend to review their matches carefully, giving consideration to the factors that they think will influence whether or not a man will make a good partner. They’re selective. Men, of course, have realized that women are selective (at least more selective than they are) and have learned that the best way to maximize their utility on dating sites is to always swipe right, and to ultimately let the women do the choosing.
Men signal that they’re interested in everyone and then women help them to narrow their option pools by choosing or not choosing them. Then men simply choose among the women who have indicated interest, increasing their chances of actually making a match. It’s a strategy that’s economically efficient and greatly reduces men’s search costs. Why waste time studying and thinking about getting to know someone who won’t like you back? Because men always signal interest?even when they don’t mean it?sites like Tinder and Hinge really aren’t working for women.
By matching you with only the people who are actually interested, building a profile for you, and leveraging your existing network of friends of friends, Hinge was designed to reduce search costs, prevent false signaling, and eliminate cheap talk. Men simply aren’t using the APS in this way, though, and so the whole system breaks. Unless dating APS like Tinder or Hinge can figure out how to make signaling more expensive, they’ll continue working well for men?and women?who are looking for casual relationships and will continue to fail those who are in the market for actual partners.