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Growth Behind Online DatingResearch Proposal

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Growth Behind Online Dating

Team Building Case Study

The Online Dating Industry Growth

The following pages focus on designing a research proposal that intends to address the subject of the online dating industry growth. The importance of the subject is derived from the fact that this online sector has significantly developed, creating a profitable environment for both large players in the industry and for smaller websites also.

The importance of the topic and the reasons for selecting it are presented in the introductory section. Furthermore, the paper continues with the literature review section, which will provide the theoretical framework in which the research proposal will develop.

The presented research proposal continues by addressing the methodology, the most important part of the research project. The research proposal is based on primary and secondary sources of information that will be detailed and argued in individual sections.

The research proposal is based on qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Also, a questionnaire will be presented in the appendix.

Introduction

Online dating websites represent the second choice regarding paid-for content, after websites presenting pornographic material. Although some would expect online dating sites to decrease in popularity because of the economic and financial crisis, the reality is quite different. It seems that the number of users of such websites has actually increased. The incomes reported by online dating services providers have significantly increased as a consequence.

It seems that the economic and financial crisis has influenced the growth of the online dating industry. The explanation for this situation can be attributed to the fact that during such periods, people feel the need to find a friend or a partner to share their problems with and to support them.

Other people use online dating websites simply because they consider that in large metropolitan areas it is very difficult to meet someone in traditional ways. As a consequence, they use online dating because they have a wider pool of potential partners to choose from.

Nowadays, people have less time for dating and for looking for potential matches. But with online dating services significant amounts of time are being saved. People see photos of other users; they can see what the preferences of other users are, and others. Therefore, they eliminate users that do not match their own preferences, which would take them several dates to do in traditional dating, wasting time and money.

But not everyone who uses these websites is interested in online dating. Some of them just want to flirt with someone, or just want to hang out online. Others use these websites to check up on their partners and to find out if their partners are keeping something from them.

Literature Review

Users' interest in online dating websites and the growth of such online service providers has determined numerous authors to analyze the subject and the reasons that stand behind this situation in their articles. They are basically trying to determine what caused this increased interest for online dating websites, especially during the economic and financial crisis.

For example, Bonny Albo presents the results of a study conducted by Jupiter Research that found out that online dating membership numbers are increasing and will continue to increase in the following period of time (Albo, 2008). However, the author also reveals that other studies and surveys have reached opposite conclusions.

The author also presents the results of an online poll where users where asked to answer whether they use online dating websites or not. Of the total number of users, 46% answered that they use online dating websites only.

But the same author admits that people who discuss in dating forums have a different opinion. Many of them say that they have never used online dating, and they do not intend to use it, or to use it again. The author thinks that the reason behind this reluctance towards using online dating websites can be attributed to the fact that people do not know how to date online, or are afraid of being the victims of online scams, or they simply do not consider this approach as suitable for them.

In an article published in Forbes Magazine, Javier Espinoza notices that the online dating industry has reached a record growth level (Espinoza, 2009). Some of these websites have even reported 400% sales annual growth. The situation applies to both large, well-known players and to smaller, new websites in this industry.

The author provides a series of reasons for which online dating websites representatives attribute this significant growth to. They consider that people are moving from bars to websites to meet other people because it is considerably cheaper to use an online dating service in comparison to going to expensive bars and not meeting any potential partners.

In addition to this, it seems that there is little risk of rejection online, which makes people feel more at ease behind the computer. Also, most users consider the online dating environment as a safe one, in comparison with people that do not use online dating, partly because they think that this environment is not safe enough for them.

However, the situation regarding the growth of the online dating sector must be analyzed for each type of website, because the trends in this industry are quite differentiated. This is because many online dating services providers have decided to go mainstream.

Mark Brooks, an Internet analyst and consultant, has revealed in article certain interesting statistics that show that mainstream dating websites are stagnating, while niche ones are increasing their market share (Brooks, 2008).

This is because there are numerous categories of online daters that must be addressed individually. The most important particular interests of users refer to sexual preferences, races, and religions. Niche dating websites address each category derived from these personal interests.

The author also reveals that one of the top niches is represented by casual dating. This niche is gaining significant market share in comparison with mainstream online dating websites.

Another important aspect related to these websites is represented by advertising. Large players in this industry have been forced to significantly increase their marketing budget in order to maintain their positions on the market (Evans, 2007).

Although most people expected that the economic and financial crisis would determine the online dating industry to stagnate, the reality is quite different, since this situation is considered to be an opportunity by people who want to create such a website (Kurniawan, 2009).

The most important websites in this industry have reported a significant growth in the number of users, after the crisis has installed, meaning that people are trying to find comfort in such activities (Ellin, 2009).

People use the Internet for the following activities:

Flirting with someone -- 40%

Visiting an online dating website -- 37%

Asking someone on a date -- 28%

Meeting someone to date -- 27%

Maintaining a long-distance relationship -- 18%

Searching information about a current partner -- 17%

Source: Pew Internet & American Life Project Survey, 2005.

The online dating market has not reached its full potential yet. This is also because the market is threatened by online scams (Anhoury, 2009).

Another writer, Joe Davidson attributes this massive increase of the online dating industry to the fact that the Internet has something for everyone. Whether one wants a flirt, a hookup, a casual relationship, a more serious relationship, or even marriage, the online dating world is able to provide it (Davidson, 2007).

Even so, it does not mean that online dating websites benefit from an increased number of users that easily. Competition is very strong in this market. In addition to this, matchmaking websites are seriously threatened by social networking sites (Wayne, 2010). The advantage of social networking sites is that they are free of charge and that they basically provide the same services as regular matchmaking websites.

When asked what the reasons behind this market growth are, matchmaking websites' representatives gave different responses. The representatives of large players in the industry consider that this growth is the result of strategic planning and of investments directed to the marketing activity. But representatives of smaller online dating websites simply consider that the market growth is due to the fact that people's acceptance towards this activity has increased (Butler, 2009).

Research Process Design

Problem Definition

The problem that this research proposal addresses is derived from the need of identifying the causes that determined the significant growth of the online dating sector. This industry has reported significant growth in terms of number of users and incomes.

The subject is even more interesting if one takes into consideration the fact that most people considered that this industry would most likely stagnate because of the economic and financial crisis. But the trends of this market have proven the opposite.

It is obvious that a series of changes have been produced in customer behavior regarding online dating websites. Therefore, it is important to identify the causes that determined these changes in order to further analyze customer behavior and to anticipate the fluctuations… [END OF PREVIEW]

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