Why are Dating Websites so Popular in China?
Along with the explosive popularity of the TV program “If You Are the One”, Chinese dating websites have grown by leaps and bounds as well.
There’s hardly a person in China that hasn’t heard of If You Are the One. On the show, there are 24 female guests. In each episode, 4 to 6 new male contestants get their chance to make a connection. If a male guest and one of the females connect, it’s considered a success. The girl will leave and a new girl will replace her on the next episode. So, a girl will stay on the show until she is matched up. However, the boys only get one shot.
Two of my foreign friends were on the program, and both failed (see 39:30). Some of the girls have been featured in magazines and other TV shows. The show itself has spurred the production of several new similar programs such as Hunan TV’s Take Me Out.
Getting back to the point, what I’m saying is that dating shows are a sign of the popularity of matchmaking in China. Dating websites can be seen as a kind of game too. If you see a ‘guest’ on the site, you can check out their info, age, habits. Better yet, you can join in the ‘game’ yourself by joining the website yourself and contacting the boy or girl that catches your eye.
In China, the three largest dating websites are:
Wherever you go on the internet, it seems you’re going to come across their ads – video sites, social networks, forums, everywhere. If they’re investing so much money in advertising, we have to assume that they’re making lots of money.
Browsing a dating website as a regular member is like being a poor man walking in a shopping mall - you can window shop as much as you want, but you can’t get anything if you don’t have money. Inappropriate metaphor of course, but still, regular members on dating sites can search for their ideal dates, but can’t contact them unless they pay to register.
Different dating sites have devised different payment schemes. Which do you think is the cleverest?
- On Jiayuan.com, membership is 498 Chinese Yuan for 12 months (about 77 US Dollars). This allows you to send and receive messages. Plus, your profile will show up more often on the website and the website will pick ideal matches for you. They also offer an alternative ‘stamp’ plan. For each message you send, you have to buy a stamp. Each stamp costs 2 Chinese Yuan (about 0.31 US Dollars).
- On Baihe.com, the price is almost identical at 499 Chinese Yuan per year. The benefits of membership are also the same: send and receive emails, have your profile show up more often, the website will pick ideal matches for you. They don’t offer a stamp option though.
- Zhenai.com charges over ten times as much: 2999 rmb per half year! How can Zhenai.com charge so much? It’s because they provide a human service. Besides the benefits of the other two websites, a human matchmaker will arrange a real date for you!
It’s hard to tell how many people actually pay, but it sure seems like a lot of them do. If you have an account on one of these famous dating websites, you can apply to be a contestant on one of the hot TV programs we talked about in the beginning of this article.
Why do so many people in China like dating websites? Are they all so eager to find their love?
Whether dating site or otherwise, the growth of social media platforms in China is unstoppable. At my work at Nanjing Marketing Group, I keep a close eye on this area and there is always more to learn.
What do you think about Chinese dating websites? Ever used one? Is there still loads of room for growth? Are the revenue models the best available? Is there room for Western dating sites to grow in China?