Over-50s Online Dating Site 'To Smash Stereotypes'
Online dating is big business - but none more so for the over 50s, the Telegraph's Wonder Women business blogger Emma Sinclair discovers when talking to a digitial entrepreneur, who is about to launch a dating site for the 'older' generation.
Going on a first date can be daunting. That doesn't change just because you get older. The 50-plus generation find there are still many of the same stigmas associated with meeting people online as there are for younger generations. Will I like him? Will we get on? Will I need my friend to ring half way through with an 'excuse' for me to leave promptly? These are the same questions going through first dates' heads, no matter their age.
According to a YouGov Survey last year, one in five relationships in the UK now start online, with UK singles contributing almost £3.4bn annually to the economy in their search for a partner. With some 5.8m people over 45 living alone and some 1.7m women over 65 who are widowed in the UK, online dating for the over-50s has become big business.
New entrant myLovelyParent.com goes live on Friday, with a business proposition aimed at those over 50s. Matt Connolly conceived the idea of the website to dispel the stigma and solve a problem presented to him around the Sunday lunch table. His single mother asked him why he couldn't help her find her knight in shining armour, and so he literally went about it.
After stepping away from his digital agency and exploring business ideas which were both scalable and had a level of integrity, Matt tells me he started to explore the world of dating for the over 50s in a serious way.
He signed himself up to a number of "senior dating" sites and interviewed hundreds of single men and women. What he found was that even though this is one of the fastest growing demographics of single people, most would never consider online dating without their child's encouragement.
Having proven the concept - being certain there was both a need and commercial value - Matt went about building a team to assist him with the creation of the site.
The US dating services industry has performed well over the last five years. Revenue gains averaged 3.5pc per year over the five-year period to reach $2bn (£1.25bn) in 2012, with consumers increasingly turning to the internet to meet prospective dates.
America is home to dating giants such as eHarmony, who has been profitable since 2004 and exceeded the $1bn in revenue mark in 2009. They estimate that 542 people get married every day in the USA having met on their website, accounting for nearly 5pc of new US marriages. Now operating in over 150 countries, they have noted the need to connect specific groups of people and offer a senior singles section.
Closer to home, giants such as Match.com have seen more than 10m members join in the UK alone since 2005. According to YouGov, almost a third of all marriages that started online in the UK started on Match - but their appeal is very broad.
Mysinglefriend, founded in 2004 by Sarah Beeny, uses peer endorsement as a key part of the site's appeal. Friends introduce their friends to prospective partners by way of a written profile and whilst candidates can't amend the write up they've been given, it does allow for a right of reply. MSF has about 200,000 users and a core demographic of 25-36 year olds. According to Hitwise data, the profiles of the top visitors to MSF are Bright Young Things and Urban Cool. Perhaps not what the over 50s are seeking.
At myLovelyParent.com, instead of a friend describing the hopeful singleton, the adult children describe their 'older' single parent. It's peer endorsement from the ones who love you most (hopefully).
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