No, I don’t actually think that society will see the end of singlehood, nor do I believe that everyone must be married. It’s just that I am amazed at the increasing number of organizations that promise to place people in the perfect relationship. Some of the players in this burgeoning industry are familiar ones like eHarmony and Match.com, as well as several other formidable competitors such as Plenty of Fish, OkCupid, and Zoosk, all of which target the masses for matches.
What’s even more interesting is the ever-expanding set of smaller firms that aim to satisfy very specialized dating desires. Instead of targeting anyone with an internet connection, these niche firms have each identified a narrow segment of the market that has distinct relational preferences, which the firm feels it can uniquely meet. For, instance:
- Elite Singles: highly educated, successful professionals
- Our Time: women and men over 50
- Christian Mingle: people of the Christian faith
- JDate: Jewish singles
- Soul Singles: Black singles
- Asian People Meet: Asian singles
- Gluten Free Singles: individuals who want to avoid gluten
- Muddy Matches: country-minded people
- Mullet Passions: people who love mullet hairstyles
- Beautiful People: very attractive women and men
The end result is a textbook study in market segmentation and targeting. Not only are a variety of demographics (e.g., age, income, race) represented among the segmentation strategies, but so are a range of psychographics (e.g., lifestyle, values, religion). In fact, the market for online dating has been so thoroughly segmented that if you’re a middle-aged man looking for a woman who wears wool, there’s probably a dating site just for you!
What are the chances, then, that yet another competitor can carve out a niche in the crowded online dating space? Although the probability of success seems slim, one company’s reconceptualization of dating dramatically distinguishes itself from others. The new idea is an app called “Squad."
Unlike most dating apps, Squad doesn’t aim to make one-on-one matches. It strives, instead, to bring together teams, or “squads”--small groups of friends who would like to meet and spend some time with another group of friends. Using the Squad app, people put together their posse then look for another group that wants to get together.
Squad Founder and CEO Adam Leibman got the idea for Squad when he and three male friends were traveling in Montreal. They wanted to meet and hang out with some people, so he changed his Tinder profile picture from one of himself to one of him and his friends. Another Tinder user saw the picture, and she brought two of her friends to meet them.
Squad groups and gatherings can last for as long, or as little as the participants want. A Squad can be just a one-time team, pulled together for a particular place and time. Another night one’s Squad might have different members. Likewise, the group meetings tend to be much easier to terminate than typical one-on-one dates. After an hour or less, if two Squads decide to part company, it’s no big deal, plus people are still hanging out with their friends, so the fun doesn’t end.
The best part of Squad, therefore, is that is allows people to meet others without all the pressure. Individuals can engage with several new people at the same time, with the support of one’s companions and without the worry of a potentially awkward pairing. In short, Squad recreates the way people most often and naturally meet others.
Of course, when it comes to on-line dating, safety in numbers also has another important meaning. There are potentially serious risks involved in going out alone with someone you don’t really know. Sure, those risks can exist in any dating situation, but they’re reduced in a group context.
But, creating a Squad and finding a compatible cohort takes time and effort. Who is willing to do that? The most likely demographic is Millennials, who are marrying later than any other generation and who like the idea of group dating. Also, given that Millennials are between the ages of about 20 and 35, they also are likely to be the most active daters.
In the saturated market for on-line match-making, Squad has identified a truly unique value proposition that aligns with the dating desires of many people, especially Millennials. As such, the app promises to create considerable stakeholder value. Meanwhile, Squad’s group meeting method also protects people in several important ways, which serves to uphold societal values such as respect. Taken together, these two create the perfect pairing for Mindful Marketing.