Guest Post: Localisation is Key to Operating Dating Products

Guest Post: Ng Jing Shen is an entrepreneur, engineer, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Paktor.

● New dating products might disrupt the industry in the short run but product intuitiveness and localisation are key

● Paktor Group prides itself as a dating brand who knows users best, dedicated to modernising romance

● Research shows a high number of Singaporeans who are single and interested to get into the dating game have no time for it

Singapore is quickly becoming a strong contender in the global tech industry. Singapore’s prime geographical position at the crossroads of vast Asian markets is one of the reasons, but it is mainly because of the nation’s investment in digital connectivity that differentiates it as an ideal destination for technology-focused online dating startups and new businesses. It’s no surprise, then, that multiple global dating companies and media groups have decided to market their dating products here.

Since day 1 of Paktor, we’ve been asked this question, “What if <big company> decides to do dating?”. As far as we’re concerned, it was never a matter of ‘if’ a big company would show up, but a question of ‘when’ that happens. Being smaller means we can do things giants will find too painful to do at their size. As the leading dating brand in Asia, we have fully immersed ourselves in local cultural contexts and honed our knowledge on their dating nuances. This means a highly personalised experience which is intuitive to the dating needs of our users. A modern fairytale cannot be backed by algorithms alone, it has to be complemented by hyperlocal message and faster iterations in our features and services.

A Singles’ Snapshot

Between 2007 and 2017, the proportion of singles aged below 40 years rose. In 2017, research indicates that in those aged 25 – 29 years, 78.8% of males and 64.6% of females were single. Some of the reasons for the significant percentages were that men tend to marry later, and believe that dating takes a backseat to their career. Similarly, for women, reasons cited were long work hours and high cost of living. According to a separate survey, the top reason was not being able to find a partner.

In such a cosmopolitan and fast-paced city, more and more young and educated professionals are interested to get into the dating game but have no time for it. In recent years, online dating usage by Singaporeans has been steadily increasing – and research shows that a third of Singaporeans have used the internet and online dating apps. A survey released by the National Population and Talent Division in 2016 also showed that 43% of Singaporeans are comfortable with meeting their partners through online dating channels.

Media giants: Can they be trusted with data?

Media giants provide services for convenience and efficiency in return for the use of consumers’ data but in the wake of recent privacy issues and data harvesting scandals, consumers are starting to be more careful about where they share their personal information. This brings us to the question if consumers should still trust media giants when they get on board the dating industry. Even though media giants have plenty of data at their fingertips, do they know how to use their data meaningfully?

Localisation is key for sustainable business

Users around the world are demanding relevant marketing, and 80% of them say that ‘authenticity of content’ is the most important factor in how they value a brand’s marketing. This key success factor of authentic content is when brands humanize and relate to customers.

New players in the dating space do not tend to have an impact on app performance. Paktor saw a 7 per cent increase in the number of matches between 2017 and 2018, with the figure rising another 36 per cent from 2018 to 2019. Currently, the app has about 850,000 users in Singapore.

Example of localised ‘gifts’ used in Paktor app across Singapore, Taiwan and Korea

As a dating app which has its founding roots in Asia, Paktor ensures a high level of localisation in user experience to make sure that culture-specific dating nuances are captured using technology-enabled platforms. For example, ‘gifts’ used in Paktor app are different across Singapore, Taiwan and Korea. Singapore offers gifts like ‘Chilli Crab’, ‘Tutu Kueh’, and ‘Durian’, which are food iconic to locals. To eliminate barriers for fun dating, Paktor app also developed a series of ice-breaker questions which set the tone for meaningful conversations. Local users can expect questions such as “Are you #TeamWestie or #TeamEastie?”, “Do you prefer Teh C over Teh O?” or “Are you a durian lover?”. In addition, Paktor also localises its marketing materials, in-app content and even the style and collection of information across their markets.

Research indicates that 63% of customers feel misunderstood by brands. Tracking customers footprints, or analysing demographic and behavioural data may reveal some insights and patterns in consumer behaviour, but it would not tell the full story. Local first-hand knowledge can result in more genuine, effective connections with customers, and can actually boost brands by making it relevant to the specific market. By jumping in the dating industry, media giants might not necessarily understand what consumers want and may not be best suited to run dating services in the long run.

Visit the Paktor website here.