China online dating market report part 3 – the trends

Key trends of China online dating market

a. Overseas venture capital show great interests in China online dating market

    During 2003 to 2006, 16 Chinese friend-making and online dating websites have raised capital amounted 93 million USD(according to information disclosed, we believe the actual investment is more than that). Major online dating companies in China like jiayuan, baihe, zhenai, marry5, yeeyoo, ipart have finished round B capital raising.

    Summary of the venture capital investments on China online dating market from 2003 to 2006:

    ● Jiayuan received venture capital of RMB 40 million ($5.42 million) and a further RMB 73.81 million ($10 million) in June

    ● In June 2005, SAIF ( http://www.sbaif.com/ ) invested US$12.50 million in ACT Technology Co., Ltd (parent of Marry5.com) for a minority stake

    ● Zhenai raised 13 million USD from Bridger Capital (the U.S.), MC Capital (Japan) and SEAVI Advent (Singapore).

    ● Meetic bought 70% shares of yeeyoo in 2006.

    ● In 2005 and 2006, Baihe.com has raised 11 million USD from Mayfield Fund, NEA, GSR Ventures and NorthernLight.

    ● Ipart raised 6 million USD[1] and Juedui100 raised 1 million USD.

    Based on our research, we haven’t found any news on VC invest in China online dating market since 2007.

    Noticeably, major online dating websites like jiayuan, zhenai, baihe, marry5, ipart etc are actively planning for overseas IPO.

    b. User-friendly website(website usability, user stickness and user experience)

      Apart from zhenai.com, most china online dating websites are trying to enhance “user stickness” and “user experience” towards their website. They use blog, album, tools, resources, social networking function to attract users. Ipart have a simple but classic website design which is attractive to female users. Shijijiayuan is doing exceptionally good in this regard, In average, every user spend 16.5 minutes on their website, browsing 25.5 pages.

      c. Use credit rather than cash for online payment

        On most online dating website, users don’t pay cash out of wallet to buy services. Instead, they deposit money to their account to buy credit(whatever name they call it, gold or stamp or something else), most service was priced in credit not in currency. Paypal have researched that people are easily to spend the money from their paypal account than from their pocket or credit card. So similarly, users are happier to spend credit on their account(like virtual currency) than directly to pay from their pockets.

        d. Niche market

          Small and medium sized players are actively exploring the niche market. They set up online dating website by region, religion, sex orientation, profession and even hobbies.

          Some typical example:

          Online dating site for soldiers:

          http://www.8181.com.cn/

          Online dating site for lesbian:

          www.15880.com

          online dating site for muslin:

          www.muslims-love.com

          regional dating site:

          http://www.fj987.com/

          It is more easily to build users loyalty to a niche brand than to a general brand.

          e. Service: online+offline+wireless

            Apart from online service, most online dating websites are trying to develop offline and wireless value-added service. Jiayuan.com have organized more than 1500 offline match-making/dating events(thousands of people attend each of the events), users need to pay 100RMB to attend such events, which is a huge revenue sources. Baihe is trying to setting up match-making/dating store to provide offline dating service.

            China’s wireless Internet also grew at a surprising speed. The CNNIC says that as the operators put more attention on the wireless Internet and the costs of mobile phone hardware was decreasing, the number of mobile phone netizens doubled in 2008 compared with that of 2007, reaching 117 million. With the issuance of China’s 3G licenses, the wireless Internet is expected to gain a explosive growth in China in the next few years.

            Based on that, major online dating websites are actively exploring mobile(wireless) service. Marry5, baihe, yeeyoo and supei are actively exploring wireless value-added service. Wireless service has become a major revenue source of marry5. But Baihe shift their interest from wireless to online service because they find it is very tricky to cooperate with China mobile operators and wireless service is easy to be affected by regulations and policies. Supei and yeeyoo allow senior users to access to their mobile version only.

            Laws and Regulations

            So far, there is no law that governs online dating market in China. The lawmakers have drafted “National Standard System on Marriage Matchmaking Services” to regulate the matchmaking/dating service industry, this law hasn’t become effective yet. Based on some information disclosed to the media, online dating company are required to sign contract with users, users need to register with their real name, online dating website are required to have a physical presence(office).[2]


            [1] According to http://tech.163.com/06/1206/08/31L5M0MJ000915BF.html, ipart.cn raised 3 million USD(Round B).

            [2] http://wed.cbg.cn/news/GetStatic/hyzx/xygd/2008-11/20084625114615.html

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