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The fact that the COVID-19 outbreak has dramatically changed our lives has been well documented. Interestingly, one of the many changes that this situation has resulted in is virtual dating. Bumble, the women-first social networking platform, recently released a host of customised features that will help improve the way people can connect with each other during this period of social distancing. Priti Joshi, Vice President- Strategy, Bumble tells us more about these features and the various trends in networking and dating the platform is seeing in India.

Q] Can you share with us some insights into how people are using Bumble during the lockdown? Are you seeing an increase in the number of users on the platform?

Early during this time period, we’ve seen a trend of increased use of Bumble in India by new and existing users, especially for our chat, video call and voice call features. Specifically in India, we have observed the following trends, as per data for the week ending March 27 versus the week ending March 13

  • An 11% increase in Gen Z registrations
  • A 29% increase in messages sent
  • A 17% increase in video calls
  • Average Video Call/Phone Call time is 14 minutes
  • We have seen users around the world mention COVID-19 and Coronavirus more and more in their profiles.

We’re expecting these and other user behavior trends to evolve as more and more people are looking for ways to combat isolation and loneliness and engage in 1:1 virtual connections.

Q] While several users are familiar with Bumble as a dating platform, a good number of people also join the platform for networking and to build connections. How are you therefore positioning the platform?

India was one of our first global markets to launch and position Bumble as a social networking platform with all three modes - Bumble Date, Bumble BFF, and Bizz. Since our launch, we’ve seen that over 40% of women users on Bumble use more than one mode. Bumble Bizz especially has helped users to quickly sort, filter, and connect with others around shared interests and intentions. Beyond expanding business contacts and making new connections, we’ve seen some users looking specifically for mentors, for advice, for professional development with occasionally, an unexpected business opportunity presenting itself. Today, five years and many Bumble weddings later, we can see that both men and women are using the app to find people with similar interests to them and are excited to experience all modes on Bumble to forge meaningful connections across dating, friendship, and professional networking.

Q] Are you seeing an increase in the popularity of virtual dating during the ongoing pandemic?

While in-person dates are not an option for many of our users right now, virtual dating is on the rise. When it comes to having a first date by video chat, we have seen our users leverage new interesting ways to build meaningful virtual connections—be it spontaneous trivia evenings, watching movies together, virtual happy hour, or sharing a glass of wine together over a Bumble video chat. Many of our users have given feedback that virtual dating is allowing them to create even stronger connections during this time. For example, one user told us: "What I've noticed is that the men I'm meeting virtually are getting more creative and I'm making deeper connections with people online – there's been this seismic tonal shift in connecting with people virtually since the pandemic intensified a few weeks ago. I've come across more people that I'm attracted to and I don't know if it's because the pressure is off to meet with someone in person, but I've noticed myself becoming more vulnerable with the people I'm meeting on Bumble since the quarantine began, too."

Q] Do you think this concept of virtual dates is here to stay?

Our data shows that in this current environment users are talking for longer and having better quality chats, even incorporating things like voice calls and video chat into their conversations. It's possible that this behaviour will continue once restrictions are lifted, as connecting over video becomes a more familiar part of the routine of getting to know someone online. Prior to this, we were seeing strong growth for Bumble in India, with the user base quadrupling since our launch in December 2018 to now surpass 3 million users and women in India have made the first move on Bumble over 9 million times.

Q] What are some of the new features the platform has rolled out during this time?

Right now we are encouraging all our users to date digitally, and have provided a number of resources and tips to help them have a great experience while doing so. We have free features within Bumble that allow our users to place voice calls or video chats without having to meet in public, share a phone number or email. The option is available across our dating, friendship-finding, and professional networking platforms. Additionally, we have released a new bundle of custom features to enhance our users’ virtual dating experience. You can now add a Virtual Date badge to your profile so your potential matches can see that you are open to video chat, you can send audio notes and reply to specific messages, and we've created a 'question game' to help you get to know your match in date mode. We've also expanded our distance filters so that you can match with people across the country.

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Tags : Christina Moniz Priti Joshi Bumble