Lockdown has changed the dating landscape. This Valentine’s Day, candle-lit dinners will be replaced by food deliveries and zoom cocktail-making, cinema trips with Netflix. Yet, with 78% of the UK population saying that they have never had a bad Valentine’s Day experience, this Sunday looks to be a highlight amidst the gloom of the pandemic.
Since March, digital-first (and digital-only) dating has thrived. A modern turn on the exchanging of love letters, dating apps have had a sudden rise, facilitating long-distance, tier-crossed relationships. On Sunday 29th March, for example, Tinder users made 3 billion swipes worldwide – the most the app has ever recorded in a single day. Likewise, rival Hinge experienced a 30% increase in messages (compared to January and February) and OkCupid witnessed a 30% increase in messages sent each day. Facebook is also looking to muscle in on the action, having launched its own dating feature in October.
The way would-be daters are communicating has also changed. Female-first app Bumble added video chat and voice call functionalities in 2019 and, during Lockdown 1.0, reportedly saw use of this function spike 93% with the average call lasting nearly 30 minutes. The service, which boasts almost 90 million users worldwide, also found that users were more unsure of how to date successfully now, with two in three feeling uncomfortable about navigating the complexities of the post-COVID dating world. Yet, there are positives: daters have reported that the pandemic has helped them figure out what really matters to them and believe that they have developed new healthy dating habits.
Brands looking to woo customers on the 14th should keep in mind these changes. Last year, ‘Amazon Dating’, a parody of the e-commerce site, became an instant internet hit and received over 10,000 applications. Created by conceptual artist Ani Acopian and writer Suzy Shinn, the website replaced products with potential people to ‘buy’, complete with prices and reviews. Meanwhile Twitter took over the London Underground; romantic messaging was cast aside for real, cringe-worthy tweets, honouring the reality of modern dating on Valentine’s Day.
Whilst the mode has change, the focus on connection remains the same. Now more than ever, brands wishing to align with romance need to have heart.