The 2012 U.S. Dating Services Industry
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This is the ONLY in-depth business analysis that covers ALL segments of this industry, since the market has no trade association performing market research. This newly updated 6th edition Marketdata study is a fascinating analysis of one of the oldest professions—matchmaking. The popularity of dating services has been strong lately – actually helped by the recession and economic and political turmoil.
This market is a now a $2.1 billion business in the U.S., with online dating services soaring in popularity since 2001 and representing 53% of the market’s value. The Web has revolutionized this business and has brought affordable and convenient matchmaking to the masses. But, dating website revenues are expected to grow only 7.5% this year as the U.S. market becomes saturated with 1,500+ sites and free dating sites and competition from popular social networking sites attracts cost-conscious singles. Europe is the next untapped market. Matchmakers are posting moderate growth, but off-line chains and radio datelines and print personals continue to slide. Speed dating continues to do well, along with certain niche markets.
The study examines: market size/forecasts and segments from 1994 to 2015 Forecast. Separate in-depth chapters cover: Dating Websites, Dating Service Chains with physical offices, Independent Matchmakers and Dating Coaches, Radio Datelines, Print Personals, Phone Chat Lines, and Singles Publications.
The study examines how dating services operate—typical revenues/fees/profits, negative image problems and sometimes unethical sales practices. Includes detailed profiles of the top matchmakers/dating coaches in the U.S., singles demographics, factors affecting demand, latest Census data/national & state operating ratios. Competitor profiles for: eLove (Together/The Right One), Great Expectations, Match.com, eHarmony, Meetic, It’s Just Lunch, Yahoo Personals, Plenty of Fish, Singlesnet, PerfectMatch, True.com, Friendfinder Networks, Teligence, Qwest Personals, Lavalife, The Matchmaking Institute, Spark Networks and more.
THE U.S. DATING SERVICES MARKET
(January 2012, 6th Edition)
Table of Contents
Introduction – Study Scope, Methodology, Sources Used
Executive Overview of Major Findings
$245 Pages 6-29
Highlights of ALL study chapters: Discussion of industry status as of 2009, 2010, 2011 performance, major developments and trends since 2009, discussion of effect of the recession, opinions of market consultants, customer dissatisfactions, factors affecting demand, how services operate/avg. receipts, customer demographics, industry $ size/growth: 1991-2015 F, main market segments $ value (2005-2015F), separate outlooks for: dating websites, off-line chains, matchmakers, dating coaches, personal ads, radio datelines, phone chat lines, how services operate, regulatory actions/image problems, industry structure/latest Census ratios (national).
Nature of The Business – How Dating Services Operate
Recommended ethics/precautions consumers should take before signing contracts, screening procedures, entry of large corporations to the business, why demand is growing for dating services, singles demographics.
Discussion of industry characteristics, evolution of “marriage market intermediaries”, definition of types of providers (singles/personal ads, video dating services, singles events, interactive voicemail systems, traditional matchmakers, computer dating – how each service operates, estimated number in U.S., no. of clients, image, advantages/drawbacks of each).
Success rates of and problems with “marriage market intermediaries”, review of literature and past studies, the future of intermediaries.
How dating services operate: typical methods used by eLove, Matchmakers Intl.
Operating ratios of franchised dating services (avg. gross revenues for small, mid-sized, large metro areas, amount spent on advertising, profit margins, $ allocated for office staff, rent, overhead, etc.)
Recommended industry code of ethics: guidelines developed by trade group, questions consumers should ask of matchmaking, video and computer services
Demographics Affecting Demand
- Summary: Discussion of number of American singles, baby boomers use of dating services
- Attitudes toward online dating, findings of various surveys
- Latest Census data: number and % of population representing single/divorced/widowed males, females 1970-2010 projections.
- Geographic distribution of singles, discussion, best cities for singles
- Marital status of adults: 1970-2010 F, age 18 and older (no. of adults in U.S.)
- Demographic profile of Internet users who use dating sites: 2000-2008
- States with highest number of unmarried men and women
- State ranking of % of unmarried men & women, 50 states
- Marital status of U.S. population, by sex and age: 2006 (no. and % distribution)
- Percent of men age 15+ who were never married, by state: 2007
- Percent of women age 15+ who were never married, by state: 2007
- Number and percent of adult population unmarried, by race: 2010
- Households, by age of householder & size of household: 1990-2010
- Cities with highest percentage of singles aged 30+
- Percent of never married adults: 197-2010, by age, sex
Market Size and Growth
- Estimated number of dating services in U.S.
- Discussion of lack of official industry data, past estimates by trade groups/rationale.
- Market status and summary: historical growth of the industry’s largest franchises & chains, peak sales year, $ size of market (effects of online dating services, growth of radio dateline systems, mismanagement, rise of the personal ads, price resistance by customers, negative
- Marketdata’s past predictions – which came true, which were wrong – discussion.
- 2009-2011 Market Performance- key trends, impacts of last recession – discussion
- $ size of market, off-line vs. online services’ growth
- 2009-2015 Outlook for independent matchmakers
- 2009-2015 Outlook for off-line dating services (no. of offices, revenues 2005, 2008)
- 2009-2015 Outlook for dating websites
- 2009-2015 Outlook for the personal ads and radio datelines market
- Total market size: 1991-2015 Forecast
- Niche Markets: companies specializing in… seniors, millionaires, religious groups, etc.
- Historical & forecasted market size in $ (1991-2015 F)
- Major market segments: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 20125F, estimated revenues of: independent matchmakers, brick & mortar chains, personal ads mkt., dating websites, phone chat lines
- Value of industry segments and growth rates: 2003-2011
- The major off-line chains (no. of offices, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2001: Great Expectations, Together, Matchmakers Intl., It’s Just Lunch.
Online Dating Services
- Status report: recent traffic patterns for top dating sites, effect of recession, effect of free sites (PlentyofFish, Singlesnet), results of recent user polls, discussion of where future growth will come from (sponsoring events, Europe, mobile apps, niche sites), member retention, cost of entry to the market rising.
- Evolution and past strong growth of online dating, advantages & disadvantages to the user, reasons for growth, estimates of number of Americans using online dating (ComScore, Nielson), who the leading competitors are, types of dating sites
- Market size & growth: estimates of online dating revenues by Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst for 2007-2012, Marketdata estimates for 2004- 2011 for top 5 competitors
- Marketdata’s estimates of size of online dating market: 2001-2015 F, analysis of impact of the recession, why it may have actually helped.
- Limitations of online dating – discussion of factors
- Trade associations - discussion, profiles of existing groups (Internet Dating Executive Alliance/IdeaOasis, International Assn. of Dating Websites)
- Lack of uniform industry metrics/yardsticks – analysis (registered users, unique visitors,
- members, paid subscribers)
- European Market for Online Dating: findings of Cross Asset report about Meetic (mkt.
- leader), why Europe is growing faster than U.S. ranking of top dating sites’ market share,
- growth projections
- Niche dating websites, type found, by religion, list of top niche dating sites
- Adult sites – discussion of faster growth.
- Rankings of top 15 U.S. dating sites, by: Hitwise, Nielson Netratings, ComScore
- Ranking of top European dating sites
- Estimated market share by: Match.com, eHarmony, Yahoo Personals!, Spark Networks, FriendFinder Networks: 2004-2011.
Competitor Profiles (headquarters, website, how the service works, cost, no. of paid subscribers vs. registered users, profile of its customers, related services, recent mergers/acquisitions, recent company developments, estd. or actual company revenues to 2008, projections, mgmt. opinions, etc.). In-depth profiles for following companies…
- Match.com 108
- Yahoo! Personals 118
- Lavalife 121
- Spark Networks 124
- eHarmony 130
- FriendFinder 135
- PlentyofFish.com 139
- Singlesnet 140
- True.com 141
- Meetic 144
Dating Service Chains (off-line services)
- Summary & definition of “off-line” or “traditional” bricks & mortar dating services with physical offices, the franchises and major chains. History of these competitors, operating model used, competition vs. dating websites, troubles of Great Expectations and comments & observations of former owners/employees, recent actions by WA and Wisconsin State Attorney General’s offices.
- Costs per acquisition, marketing methods, profit margins, avg. receipts per office. Interview with GE & Matchmakers International management/owners.
- Market $ size & status report: 2009-2011 performance
- Have companies changed their sales practices? – discussion, recent actions.
Table: The 4 major chains, by no. of offices and revenues, 2005, 2008, 2011.
Competitor Profiles (headquarters, website, how the service works, no. of offices, fees charged, no. of customers, profile of its customers, franchising, avg. gross sales potential per office, typical profit margins, expenses, marketing methods, recent mergers/acquisitions, recent company developments, estd. or actual company revenues, mgmt. opinions, etc). In-depth profiles for following companies…
- Great Expectations 153
- eLove (Together Dating Service /The Right One) 165
- Matchmakers International 169
- It’s Just Lunch 171
- Other off-line companies: speed dating (Pre-dating, Hurry Date, 8 Minute Dating)
- How matchmakers operate: summary & discussion, why they’re doing well today.
- Market size & status report: estimated number of matchmakers in the U.S., 2011, average revenues per matchmaker, TV exposure, mkt. size 2010-2015 F
- Estimated income/expense statement, profit margins for solo operators/multi-office operations
- 2009 matchmakers survey – results of Matchmaking Institute survey (number of clients, income, other operating ratios, top 5 markets, etc.)
- The Matchmaking Institute: entry of new matchmakers into the profession
- Industry trade association: discussion of past efforts to form The National Association of Ethical And Professional Matchmakers, other efforts, ethical guidelines.
- Major market trends: ease of entry, use of websites, impact of the recession, ancillary services being offered.
- Dating Coaches: how they operate, fees, competition with matchmakers, growing popularity
Profiles of Some of the Top U.S. Independent Matchmakers
(For matchmakers profiled below… an in-depth discussion and description of how they operate, typical fees, clients served, specializations, address or phone and website. Findings of Marketdata phone interviews, opinions on status of the market.)
- Leora Hoffman Associates
- Kailen Rosenberg
- Janis Spindel
- Zelda Fischer (Gentle People Ltd,)
- Barbie Adler (Selective Search Inc.)
- Irene Valenti (Valenti International)
- Lisa Ronis Personal Matchmaking
- Amber Kelleher (Kelleher & Associates)
- Dianne Bennett
- Samantha Daniels
- Patti Stanger
- Bonnie Wills
Profiles of some leading dating coaches (Evan Marc Katz, Susan Rabin, Susan Bradley, Annie Gleason, Jeannine Kaiser, Nancy Slotnick, Janice Bennett, David Wygant, Elizabeth Macinnis, Barbara Elgin, Lisa Shield, Patti Feinstein, Matt Titus, Lauren Francis).
The Personal Ads, Radio Datelines, & Chat Lines Market
- Print personals – discussion of market characteristics, status report & relationship between newspapers running the ads, the automated voicemail system providers they use, and long distance phone companies, avg. cost per 900 number call, cost to responders to ad vs. those placing them, why personals are popular vs. other methods.
- $ Size of the Personal Ads Market: discussion/analysis of decline of the market, past media estimates, personal ads’ share of total 900/976 number call volume, Marketdata estimates & forecasts of personals mkt. size, 2001, 2005-2012 growth outlook, based on phone interviews, inherent problems/limitations of personal ads.
- Radio Station Datelines: status report & discussion/analysis of popularity of radio automated “datelines”, Status Report: The leading providers of Interactive Voicemail Systems today, effect of online dating services as main contributor to decline in this market, comments by management regarding withdrawal from market by competitors, profiles of two companies left:
- Spark Network Services and Telepublishing International.
- Singles Phone Chat Lines: Nature of the market, estimated size, profiles of Teligence, Qwest Personals, why the business has been holding up well lately.
- Singles publications market: discussion of reasons for decline, how they operate/make money, avg. subscription price, cost to run personal ads, avg. cost of automated personals, etc. name/address list of the major U.S. singles publications, by state
Industry Economic Structure & Operating Ratios
- Summary & analysis of 2007 Census survey (latest available): the dating services industry NAICS code, no. of establishments & companies in the U.S., national receipts, payroll costs, key ratios (avg. receipts per establishment, avg. receipts per company, avg. receipts/payroll per employee).
- Analysis of legal form of organization of dating services (% of establishments & receipts by: corporations, partnerships, sole proprietorships – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Analysis by industry concentration levels: top 4, 8, 20, 50 firms – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Analysis by single & multi-unit operations – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Analysis & ratios, by receipts size of companies – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Analysis & ratios, by receipts size of establishments – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Number of dating services, state’s total receipts, avg. receipts per service, by state: 2007, 2002
- Ratios, by legal form of organization – 2007, 2002, 1997 (no. of estabs., firms, payroll as % receipts, receipts by type)
- Ratios, by industry concentration levels (market share): top 4, 8, 20, 50 firms – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Ratios, by single & multi-unit operations (ratios as above) – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Ratios, by receipts size of companies (as above, 11 classes-under $100K-$100 mill. – 2007, 2002, 1997
- Ratios, by receipts size of establishments (as above, 11 classes-under $100K-$100 mill.) – 2007, 2002, 1997.
Reference Directory of Industry Trade Associations & Information Sources 276-280
List of dating service industry trade associations, conferences, consultants and experts, research papers, analyst reports, etc. — address & phones.
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