Traffic on matchmaking apps and sites increased during the lockdown. Jeevansaathi.com claims to have seen a 30% growth in new user acquisitions year-on-year during the period. Shaadi.com witnessed a traffic surge of 15-20% on its platform, compared to the pre-Covid period, while BharatMatrimony, another big player in the segment, reported a 30% increase in registrations.
The time spent on these platforms has increased, too. Jeevansaathi.com has seen a 20% increase in time spent on its platform, and engagement on Shaadi.com is up by 25%. But with strict social distancing norms in place during this time, these numbers may mean little.
Vows on video
Matrimonial sites have been introducing new features to make up for the lack of physical meet-and-greet. Jeevansaathi.com now has a video profile feature and is also boosting its video and audio calling feature. “The usage of audio and video calling features on our platform has increased by over three times since the lockdown started,” says Rohan Mathur, executive vice president and business head, Jeevansaathi.com.
The company is also organising virtual social get-togethers for its users. These features were introduced in December to ensure privacy for its users.
With uncertainty looming large about when normalcy will be restored, weddings have been postponed. To address this predicament, Shaadi.com and BharatMatrimony are offering wedding services, with safety and hygiene guidelines in place, free of cost to its users.
“We have launched HomeWeddings, on MatrimonyBazaar, which will provide the entire range of Covid-safe wedding services, right from catering to make-up and purohits, at the doorstep, to help couples tie the knot. We have already received about 100 enquiries for the initiative,” says Murugavel Janakiraman, founder and CEO of Matrimony.com, which owns BharatMatrimony.
Shaadi.com has launched an initiative titled Weddings from Home, and is offering end-to-end services to customers to facilitate marriages over videos. “We have organised three weddings so far through this initiative, and have received several enquiries. Though there is an initial hesitancy among consumers, as this is a novel concept, we see this taking off in the future,” says Adhish Zaveri, director – marketing, Shaadi.com. The company had also made its services free to use for all in the initial phase of lockdown.
According to Statista, India’s matchmaking market is valued at $184 million, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10% to reach $269 million by 2024. The website estimates that the market has about 8.2 million users in the country currently.
Despite the adaptations being made, experts are of the view that since matrimonial platforms have been struggling with profitability, they will have a tough time monetising the surge in traffic going ahead. Jeevansaathi.com and Shaadi.com have both seen a subdued rise in the number of paid subscribers in recent months.
“These companies may try monetisation by offering wedding services, but they may face tough competition there, as this space already has many offline players,” says Ankur Pahwa, partner and national leader – e-commerce and consumer internet, EY India.
According to him, although video features could help users connect with each other, they cannot build trust, which is crucial in matchmaking. Most of these apps have been used by fraudsters in the past, and ensuring the safety of users is a prime concern for them already.
Pavel Naiya, senior analyst, Counterpoint Research, says that since most users are already accustomed to using other instant messaging and social media platforms for video calls, they may not be interested in using the video feature being offered on matrimonial apps. “Changing this behaviour may take a long time,” he says.