Young adults are driving use of mobile dating apps, and marketers are becoming more innovative

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According to data from Pew Research Center, 15% of Americans have previously used mobile dating apps or online dating sites last year, up from 11% in 2013. Based on a national sample of 2,001 adults, the research found that the largest growth originated from opposite ends of the age spectrum among American adults.

12% of American adults have previously used an online dating site in 2015, up from 9% in 2013. 9% of adults were using dating sites through their phones, up from 3% in 2013.

The growth was particularly strong for those aged 18-24 years and adults in their late 50s+. Among the younger generation, online dating almost tripled over the last two years. In 2015, 27% of them said they had used online dating sites, up from 10% in 2013. The rise is being predominantly driven by mobile dating apps, with 22% of young adults using mobile apps for dating purposes, up from 5% in 2013.

Similarly, the share of 55-64 year-olds doubled from 6% in 2013 to 12% in 2015.

Young adults are more likely to use mobile dating apps

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A more detailed breakdown of demographics shows that more men (10%) than women (8%) used mobile dating apps. Whilst overall college graduates and those on incomes higher than $30k were more likely to use online dating sites, lower income households are just as likely to use dating apps, presumably due to cost considerations.

Mobile dating apps by demographic group

pew research online dating


Familiarity with dating apps and online dating is even more pronounced among American adults. 41% of respondents said they know someone who dates online, whilst 29% said they know someone who married or entered a long-term relationship with someone they had met online. College graduates and the affluent were more likely to know someone who uses online dating methods.

In addition, the research found that 80% of adults believe online dating to be a good way to meet people, whilst 62% also agreed that it made finding a better match easier, because they get to know more people. 61% believe that online dating is easier and more efficient than other ways of meeting people. However, 45% also admit that online dating can be more dangerous than traditional dating methods. 31% say it keeps people from settling down, because they continue to have the option to date, and 16% believe online dating was “desperate”.

Perceptions of the online dating experience

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The growing use of dating apps hasn’t gone unnoticed by marketers. Fashion brand J.W. Anderson, for example, took the initiative and streamed a menswear show on gay dating app, Grindr. Jonathan Anderson, Founder of J.W. Anderson, says:


“For me it was: how could we reach 196 countries in one moment. It’s quite amazing to be able to access 7m people at once. I feel like it’s very important that brands explore media, it’s the only way forward. I don’t see any differentiation between Grindr, Tinder and Instagram.”

Similarly, Diesel has been pushing for ad space where traffic is highest. The fashion brand advertised on Grindr as well as pornographic sites, YouPorn and Pornhub.