The Tinder competitor says its millennial users—and Gen Y women in particular—have bid goodbye to the casual fling
It’s the dating app that ghosted swiping.
A year ago, Hinge redesigned its interface and rebranded itself a “relationship app.” Introduced on the heels of Tinder in 2012, the app’s developers jettisoned the swiping motion that facilitated casual conversations after a Vanity Fair article lamenting the hookup culture exacerbated by its ilk. Instead, lonely hearts are required to answer select prompts (sample Q: “most spontaneous thing I’ve done?”) and like and comment on the responses and images of potential partners. Users get a restricted number of free daily matches, but paying $7 a month opens up more options.
The idea was that putting in a bit more effort means that you’re more serious about dating. And now, Hinge has released data as to the redesign’s impact. According to the New York-based connections company, downloads of the app have increased by 130% among 20-something women, an industry harbinger, in the past year. Users are liking each other less—they now have to tap a heart button next to each cute image or witty answer—but engagement after a match is up significantly: 50% of would-be couples now talk to each other, up from 1 in ten previously.
More surprisingly, a large number of Hinge users now say they’re looking for more than a quick fling. When asked to evaluate their intentions on a scale of one to 10, with one being a basically a one night stand and 10 suggesting a long-term romance, 96% of female users say they’re searching for the latter. That was also the case for 78% of men on Hinge.
“We thought that people were only looking for something casual” because of the blockbuster success of swiping apps, says Olivia Abramowitz, Hinge’s vice president of marketing. “But the vast majority are actually looking for something more even though there wasn’t an app designed for that. It’s a significant shift in how millennials are using dating apps.”
That’s partly due to a generational shift as millennials grow older and, like Gen Xers and Baby Boomers before them, move to settle down. The average male and female dater on Hinge is now 29 and 28 years old respectively, up from 26 before the redesign. “Tinder was popular with 22 and 23 year olds a few years ago,” says Abramowitz. “Those users are growing up.”
Hinge also says the revamp is drawing in those who eschewed hookup apps in the first place. Due to the redesign and the later introduction of features like video uploads, “people are showing more of their personalities and members are able to lead with something other than looks,” Abramowitz says. “It allows you to put out a 360 [degree] view of your personality and be vulnerable about who you are.”
For others, the jury is still out. The rebranding is “mainly a marketing tool to say that their app is for more serious, relationship-minded people,” says Erika Ettin, who runs dating consultancy A Little Nudge. The D.C.-based Cupid likes that Hinge 2.0 offers “fun, quirky” questions that can stimulate conversation, but is less keen on the fact that anyone can interact with your photos and comments without a mutual like having been established. Ettin also notes that you can tap a heart on someone’s photo without leaving a comment—a method she calls “lazy” and not substantially different from swiping.
“I tell my clients that you can use any app for anything you want,” says Ettin, adding that her Hinge-toting clients haven’t seen particular improvements after the app’s redesign. “Tinder has a reputation as a hookup site, but if you’re upfront and are proactive about it, you will get whatever you want.”
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