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Tinder downloads are falling but the dating app era isn’t over yet

The popularity of dating apps has remained steady despite a slight decline in overall downloads in recent years.
Rachel Wilson
The popularity of dating apps has remained steady despite a slight decline in overall downloads in recent years.

By Rachel Wilson, CNN

(CNN) — Tinder, the app behemoth that leads the dating market, is shrinking. But virtual love isn’t a dying breed yet.

As many as 46% of online daters say they’ve used Tinder, according to a 2023 Pew Research Center report, but annual downloads are down more than a third from the app’s 2014 peak. Match Group, the company that owns Tinder, reported in its most recent earnings report that paying users fell by 8% last year to just below 10 million.

But dating apps, including Bumble, Grindr, Hinge and OkCupid, have cemented themselves as a fixture in American life: 2023’s downloads are more than twice the number of downloads in 2012, the year Tinder launched. And the oldest members of Gen Z users, who are now among those downloading dating apps, don’t seem to be that different from the Millennials who came before them, according to recent surveys.

This is the state of the dating app market, in four charts:

Downloads are starting to fall

The popularity of dating apps has remained steady despite a slight decline in overall downloads in recent years.

In 2023, Americans completed more than 36 million downloads, down 2% from the previous year and 16% from a 2020 pandemic-era high, according to mobile analytics provider data.ai, which tracks trends in mobile markets.

As many as three in 10 of all Americans say they’ve used a dating app, according to Pew. For those under 30, which includes Gen Z adults aged 18–25 at the time of the survey, dating apps are even more common: as many as 53% reported using one.

Tinder’s dominance is waning

Tinder has been the most commonly used dating app for Americans, a status it has held almost since it launched in 2012.

But downloads of rival app Bumble have risen steadily since 2021 and are poised to overtake Tinder this year, according to data.ai.

“Since its launch, it has garnered more than 530 million downloads, with over half of its users falling within the 18-to-25 age range, including Gen Z,” Tomas Iriarte-Reyes, a communications manager at Tinder, told CNN.

More singles seeking online connections are turning to Hinge, according to recent data from data.ai, while Grindr and HER, apps dedicated to gay and lesbian communities, have maintained a steady user base over the past few years.

Tinder is the largest app in Match Group’s US portfolio, which also includes Match, OKCupid, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and 36 other dating app brands aimed at diverse communities. Match dominates the dating industry with a market value of $10.43 billion, compared with Bumble’s $2.58 billion, though both have seen stock prices fall from pandemic-era highs.

Dating apps are adapting to Gen Z

Young adults under 30 are nearly twice as likely as most Millennials who are over 30 to be current or recent users of dating apps, and more than 40% of Americans who’d recently used online dating services said their major reason for being on the platforms is to meet a long-term partner or spouse according to the 2023 Pew report.

But Gen Z is also forming romantic relationships offline more frequently than other generational cohorts. About 40% of young US adults in relationships say they were close friends or friends with their partner before they became romantically involved, according to the Survey Center on American Life. (The Survey Center for American Life is part of the American Enterprise Institute, which is a conservative think tank.)

App companies have recently started adjusting their strategies to appeal to Gen Z.

Last year, Tinder targeted US college campuses as part of their Gen Z-focused marketing campaign. It offered short-term subscription plans to cater to younger users who are not in a hurry for commitment.

Match Group also found that its Gen Z users were seeking “a lower pressure, more authentic way to find connections,” according to the company’s most recent quarterly earnings report.

Bumble says its daters are also interested in low-pressure dating.

“One in three US Bumble users say they are ‘slow dating’ and actively going on fewer dates to protect their mental health when it comes to dating. This number was slightly higher for Gen Z and Millennials, and lower for Gen X and Boomers,” said Amelia Orlando, a public relations manager at Bumble, based on their 2024 dating trends report.

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