If you don’t know what Tinder is, you better pack up your loincloth and move out of that cave. It’s a free dating app where users browse short profiles within a given geographic locality. If they're not impressed users swipe left to dispose of potential new partners or right if they like what they see. The ultimate USP is that users can only progress a relationship if their right swipe also right swipes them too; that friends, is a "match".
With its addictive gaming format Tinder has blown all competition out of the water. The New York Times reported it has 50 million users a month.
But will new Tinder Plus change the game? The paid for version of the previously free app enables users to undo accidental ‘left swipe’ rejections and search profiles worldwide. These are Tinder’s most requested additions, yet users are still spitting mad. Why?
The outrage centres around Tinder’s pricing structure – under-28s £3.99 per month, over-28s £14.99 per month – and news the free version will have ads and a right-swipe limit. What?!
Tinder has been branded greedy and the legality of pricing age discrimination has been questioned.
But we wonder, is this just a PR disaster? Perhaps this could have been avoided if more focus had been placed on how Tinder's biggest demographic, 18-24 year olds, can only afford the lower cost. Or is it still just down right unfair to have a double standard?
There’s nothing unusual about Tinder’s monetisation strategy, or their pricing model. When it comes to monetising apps, you have a number of options:
A lot of popular apps will include adverts which advertisers pay app owners to show. Users can also pay to have apps removed. Win, win for the app company.
Another monetising option is "Paidmium". This is when people pay to download your app, but you need a strong market presence and a very good app to compete with free ones.
With "Freemium", as opposed to "paidmium", the app remains free but users pay for 'gated' additional services. This is clever because free users bulk-up market presence but most regular users will inevitably want to unlock additional features.
Sponsorship is also available; this provides rewards to users, and you receive a proportion of the value of redeemed rewards. The only problem with this is if not enough people are interested in the free stuff you won't bring in any cash.
Tinder’s strategy seems like a smart play. They're using advertising and freemium and by doing so they’re ensuring two revenue streams, not withdrawing their free service, and making the paid option more attractive by devaluing the free version. They’re offering their main demographic (18-24) a better price; and the subscription model maximises profits from a user base which shifts between wanting and not wanting the service.
However! Purposefully devaluing a service is risky: people expect ads, but limiting a previously unlimited service feels cynical. Undoing left swipes isn’t just a desired service, but a perceived problem with the current service. One huge reason for Tinder’s popularity is it doesn’t feel desperate. Tinder is like a game requiring minimum effort; a price-tag will change this.
So are the price points right? Full price isn’t far off a three month Guardian Soulmates deal; can a simple app justify the pricing of a full dating service? There’s no doubt that Tinder has (left or right) swiped the nation but will this move “undo” the match? What do you think?
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