China online dating market report part 1 – market overview

China Online Dating Market Overview

a. Current and Projected Market Size

According to the statistics released by CNNIC, the number of Internet users in China had reached 298 million by the end of 2008[1], a year-on-year increase of 41.9%. Among the 298 million internet users, 55% are unmarried, which reaches 164 million. By the end of 2008, there are 29 million users that are active in online dating, among which, 5% users are paid users(that amount to 1.45 million). according to a recent iResearch report, China’s online dating market is expected to reach 653 million yuan (about $81 million) by 2008, with an annual growth rate of 60%. The report values the online dating market at 37 million yuan (~$4.5 million) for 2004 and 91 million yuan ($11.2 million) for 2005. By 2010, China online dating market is expected to reach 1.2 billion yuan(about 176 millionUSD).

b. Users Payment Habit

There are very few members of China online dating websites are paid members. Due to that, few online dating companies in China are making profit, and profitability has become the bottleneck of the development of China online dating market.

There is in-depth China online dating report saying that “the biggest bottleneck hampering revenue generation in China is the undeveloped credit card market and lack of online payment methods”[2], We think with the development of ecommerce and banking in China, payment is no longer a hindrance of China online dating market development.

The key problem is trust and credit system. As Zhuli, the boss of Juedui100.com, confess in an interview, the biggest hindrance prevent users paying for online dating service is online dating brands have yet gained trust from users, which she think will take years to build up.[3] Apart from that, China hasn’t built up a credit system(to check which company or individual can be trusted, and who has black spot in their history), Chinese people only feel safe to do business face to face. But with the build-up of credit system on a national level and with the development of ecommerce, Chinese people are getting used to online payment.

There is a survey on how many users will pay for online dating service and how much they are willing to pay monthly. 70% participants are willing to pay. Among which, 29.5% choose less than 10Yuan monthly; 18.8% are willing to pay 10-30 Yuan, 11.1% willing to pay 30 – 50 Yuan, 7.7% choose 50 – 100 Yuan, 2.3% choose more than 100 Yuan.[4]

But noticeably, with the economical booming, more and more middle-classes are willing to pay expensive membership fee for online dating. That is why company like zhenai.com only focus on that group of people.

c. Popularity of online dating

China’s economic development and changing social structure will be the key driving factors for online dating services. As young men and women become better-educated and careerconscious, delay their marriages or get divorced due to work pressure and incompatibility issues, the need for alternative means of social networking will increase. Youth who have grown up with technology will increasingly gravitate towards the digital world for finding mates.

With social networks becoming fragmented by increasing migration from rural to urban areas, the traditional way of match-making through friends and family is disappearing fast. Digital sites promise a good alternative to develop new social connections. Another factor that drives growth is the anonymity that dating online provides, which helps the new generation of Chinese youth, who are shy and find it hard to mingle in the real world.

d. Profitability of China online dating companies

According to a report on People.com.cn[5], apart from Marry5.com, all online dating companies in China admit that they are losing money. The reasons for that lie in: 1) Online dating is something new in China, it will take time for users to accept and pay for it; 2) Product differentiation, most websites have very similar products that users are not interested, online dating companies need to develop products meeting the expectation of users. For example, Chinese people are introvert, however, many websites promote the service of homepage highlight and rank service(the user’s profile will be highlighted on homepage), according to the report, that service is inconsiderable.


[1] The internet users number is based on the report at http://www.chinatechnews.com/2009/01/14/8507-chinas-internet-users-increased-to-298-million-in-2008/

[2] http://www.synovate.com/bc/insights/whitepaper/docs/Online%20Dating%20in%20China%20(White%20paper)%20-%20Damien%20and%20Calvin.pdf

[3] Link of the interview at http://www.chinaz.com/news/it/09223vy2008.html

[4] Based on the report at http://www.51cmc.com/article/200608/20060802100900026969.shtml

[5] the link for the report is http://media.people.com.cn/GB/40628/6142994.html

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