One wouldn’t easily associate the recession with a boom in the matchmaking industry. But surprisingly, reports from both online and off-line matchmakers show that interest in dating is up. Match.com ended the fourth quarter in 2008 with the strongest revenue they have had in the last 14 years of business. Both membership and traffic were up by more than 15%. The business has continued to gain momentum in the beginning of 2009. About 20,000 new members join the site every day, about 15% more than previous months.
The gloomy economic numbers seem to have a positive effect on the romance industry.
“Right now there is a lot of anxiety in the U.S. and the market place. I think it drives people more to find someone to weather the economic storm with,” says Mindy Ginsberg, senior vice president and general manager at Match.com, one of the major dating websites in the US. “In this recession, people continue to come to the site and communicate at a much higher rate than we expected.” Match.com charges about $15 a month for a six-month package and about $30 for a one-month package. eHarmony.com, a competitor of Match.com, also reported a 40% increase in business in the last quarter of 2008.
Online dating sites aren’t the only ones seeing soaring numbers. Many off-line matchmakers are also experiencing a boom. Kelleher & Associates, one of the biggest matchmakers in the U.S. with offices in most major cities, says they have seen an increase in national membership, although there is a decline in local membership. Samantha’s Table, a matchmaker in New York, has experienced a 20% increase since the summer time.
Compared with online sites, real-life matchmakers charge higher service fees. The cheapest package at Kelleher & Associates starts from $10,000, all the way up to $150,000 for the elite club program, which only accepts ten clients a year. The minimum service from Samantha’s Table also costs as much as $20,000, for which Daniels will work with the client for one year looking for a suitable partner.
It should also be noted that although bigger companies with long history and a good track record have received more clients this recession, companies that are newly established or don’t have an impressive matching record are being pushed out of the market. For example, Bay Area-based matchmakers Table 6 and Altogether disappeared recently due to lack of business. According to Amber Kelleher, owner of Kelleher & Associates, people watch their money more closely in the recessionary times. Because smaller matchmakers are not in the market long enough to establish their track record, people tend to shy away from them.
The reason for the increased interest in dating can be boiled down to the anxiety about their lives, says Gabriela Cora, psychiatrist at American Psychiatric Association.