Online dating has become a widely accepted method of meeting potential romantic partners. However, a new trend is emerging that sees Gen-Z turning to the internet to establish platonic relationships rather than just romantic ones. This shift is giving rise to friendship-focused platforms that are gaining popularity among young adults.
According to ExpressVPN, a fresh trend of anti-dating apps is rising. These platforms aim to assist individuals in navigating post-breakup feelings and foster platonic friendships. BumbleBFF, HEY! VINA, Meetup, Nextdoor, and Atleto are just some examples of these platforms.
The Evolution of Online Relationships
Traditional online dating platforms have become a standard way for couples to meet. Indeed, a recent study revealed that 39% of heterosexual couples in the U.S. met online. The figure is even higher for LGBTQ+ couples, with the Pew Research Center noting that more than half of these relationships begin online.
But the scope of online relationships is now expanding beyond the romantic sphere, with many people seeking friendships online. This evolution is driven by the changing social dynamics brought about by factors such as the shift to remote work and the desire for expanded social networks.
The Rise of Friendship Apps
Many apps have emerged to cater to this growing need for online friendships. Platforms like Bumble BFF and Meetup are designed to help users build platonic relationships, offering a new way to connect with like-minded individuals.
Beth Berger, general manager and vice president of Bumble BFF, notes that the pandemic-induced shift to remote work has led to many people seeking to rebuild their communities and connections. By the end of 2021, 15% of Bumble users had used Bumble BFF, indicating the growing acceptance of friendship apps.
The Financial Impact of Friendship Apps
While the adoption of friendship apps is rising, their profitability remains a question. Analyst Lauren Schenk from Morgan Stanley noted that while social discovery and online friendships are a focus for companies like Match and Bumble, these services have yet to prove lucrative.
Morgan Stanley’s 2023 revenue estimate for Bumble is just over $1 billion, with only about $1 million coming from Bumble BFF and its business networking service, Bizz. This indicates that monetizing these platforms remains challenging while the demand for online friendship services is growing.
Understanding Gen-Z’s Shift Towards Friendship Apps
As digital natives, Gen-Z are comfortable navigating the online world. Their shift towards friendship apps over dating platforms speaks volumes about their evolving social needs.
Niobe Way, a professor of developmental psychology at New York University, explains that just as online dating was once stigmatized and is now mainstream, the same trajectory is likely for online friendships.
Meeting the Needs of Gen-Z
The rise of friendship apps reflects a broader societal shift. As our lives become increasingly digital, our social interactions are following suit. While the financial viability of these platforms remains uncertain, their growing popularity indicates a clear demand.
For developers and marketers, understanding the needs and behaviors of Gen-Z users is crucial. Companies can engage this vital demographic by offering services that meet these needs, paving the way for future success.
The Future of Online Friendships
The increasing popularity of friendship apps suggests that the trend of online friendships is here to stay. As technology evolves, these platforms will likely become more integrated into our social lives.
However, the challenge for these platforms will be to find a sustainable business model. As they continue to grow, companies must explore new ways to monetize their services without compromising the user experience.
The rise of friendship apps is a clear indication of the evolving needs of Gen-Z. As the line between our online and offline lives continues to blur, the demand for digital platforms that facilitate meaningful connections – both romantic and platonic – is likely to continue to grow. While the profitability of these platforms remains uncertain, their increasing popularity underscores the value of digital connectivity in our modern social landscape.