India’s most popular matchmaking service is finally being used in … India

Indians are now racing off to find marriage online.
Indians are now racing off to find marriage online.
Image: AP Photo/Mahesh Kumar A.
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While the rest of the world believes that marriages are made in heaven, in India, marriages have always been made in categories. Until a decade ago, there were only two: arranged, where the parents picked the potential spouse; and love, a minority of couples who chose each other. Now, sitting somewhere in between and growing at a phenomenal rate, is a new one—the online matchmaker. 

Here are some figures that highlight the rising trend:

The top three online Indian matchmakers have accounted for over 5 million marriages in the last decade. Bharat Matrimony is the prominent player in the southern states and Shaadi, which means wedding in Hindi, is the leader in the rest of the country. Jeevansathi was a later entrant and is currently the third largest player.

On average, Shaadi gets 10,000 new registrations a day and has 3 million active users looking for spouses. Until 2007, a majority of these users were South Asians who lived abroad. Now, 80% of registered users, which include parents looking for spouses for their children, are Indians living in India.

The current size of the online-matchmaking industry in India is $100 million. Revenues of the top two players, Bharat Matrimony and Shaadi, are around $30 to $35 million a year and are growing at 40% annually. Registration on the sites is free but users have to pay, between $45 to $60 for three months’ access, to initiate contact with other users.

Sites provide their users with 23 to 25 personal criteria such as: community, location, education, height, weight, age, salary among others. Most users’ first criterion is finding someone from their own community followed by educational qualifications and career prospects. During the recession of 2008 to 2010, the average age of the users went up by six months as people delayed getting married. Also, most users preferred not to marry people working in the more recession-hit countries, especially the US and UK. Bankers also fell significantly in the preferred list of professions.

Currently, eight metro cities account for 50% of the users. The remaining users come from other parts of India. The highest rate of growth is in the non-metro India gets connected to the internet and mobile is the new area of focus for online matchmakers in India. Offline users have the option to go to one of 100 matchmaking centers that Shaadi operates across 87 towns in India.