Online dating during Covid-19: KalaGato

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Aman Kumar, Co-Founder and Business Head of KalaGato — writes about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Indian dating scene, how it has impacted the popularity of dating apps and the rise in the number of people using dating platforms in smaller towns and cities. 

As one can  imagine, the dating scene was hit quite badly by the lockdown(s); the graphs below – illustrate just how bad things got.


One would’ve imagined that people would switch into high gear – even if it’s for just a chat – but if the data is anything to go by…people just decided to give it a break altogether. Installs for Tinder fell by over 50% while Happn held on to 60% of their pre-covid users.

The exception to the rule is an app called MICO – that helps you ‘meet new people, have a chat, explore something fun, and experience exciting live streaming together’.  It’s a kind of chat roulette for millennials that lets you do everything from meet strangers, ‘make friends’ and live stream content.

Despite the obvious limitations of a video chat-based dating platform – the sudden popularity of MICO makes some sense in a ‘Zoom-ified’ world. It’s one way to fight the covid blues.

This was true in terms of Daily Active Users & Total Session Time as well!

In case you’re wondering why it suddenly starts falling around the 27th of July – you guessed it – the Indian Government banned it as part of their 2nd ‘digital surgical strike’!

MICO not only managed to corner more users every day but also got a stunning 45 minutes of engagement before it got shut down! That’s nearly 5X its closest competitor.

Yes, I know that it’s easier to get big engagement numbers with a smaller base of users, but these are the numbers that (unicorn) dreams are made of.

Maybe the age & location-wise breakdown of users on dating platforms shouldn’t surprise people, but Its amazing to see that the bulk of users were over 25-year-old.

Even the number of people in smaller towns and cities (Tier 3 + Others) who use dating platforms was a surprise to me.

Sure, there are reasons to believe that a lot of these people might just be looking for a way to ‘time-pass’ as they say in India but it’s also one leading indicator to a slowly evolving social construct? Perhaps the next generation of Indians is letting go (or trying to) of social taboos?

Your thoughts, please