US-based Bumble entered India in December 2018, at a time when the country was already flooded with online dating apps. But just five months later, the company says it has witnessed record-breaking success in the country.
For one, Indians have already started over two million conversations on its platforms, says Priti Joshi, Bumble’s global director of strategy. Also, around 60% of Indian women on Bumble are using at least two of its modes, which is higher than in any other country.
The US-based dating app offers three modes: Date for dating, Bizz for professional networking, and BFF for friendships.
What’s unique about Bumble, backed by actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas, is that once two users have signaled interest in each other’s profiles, only the woman can initiate a conversation. Soon after its December launch, Bumble became the fourth-most popular dating app by combined monthly active users on iOS and Android phones in India, according to analytics firm App Annie. That’s a feat, given that players such as US-based Tinder and Happn and homegrown TrulyMadly and Woo have been around for a while now.
Joshi has closely watched Bumble’s journey in India, first when she led its launch in the country and now as its head for marketing here. Joshi spoke to Quartz from Austin, Texas, about what Bumble has learnt in the past five months.
How are Indian women using Bumble, especially since they have to make the first move?
We have a conversation starters feature that helps women come up with interesting things to initiate the conversation. It’s not easy to make the first move, we know that and recognise that.
Women in India are adopting Bumble differently than those in other countries. We have seen that 60% of women in India are using at least two modes among Date, Bizz, and BFF. This is higher than Bumble’s female users in the rest of the world.
To help with the cultural and historical undertones, for Indian women, we by default only show the first initial of their name in Date mode. That helps women feel more confident and secure.
Also, women in India send twice as many messages as those in the rest of the world. This means they do want to make the first move.
How did you localise Bumble for India?
Back in 2017, we launched Bumble Bizz in New York with a handful of really powerful women who are leaders in business across the world. One of those women was Priyanka (Chopra Jonas). When (CEO) Whitney Wolfe Herd was talking about why she founded Bumble in 2014 to give women a place to feel empowered and own the connections they are making, Priyanka leaned across the table and said, “Wow, we need to take this to India.”
Between a handful of senior executives at Bumble and Priyanka’s team, we spent the better part of last year travelling back and forth to India, doing very localised focus groups and chatting with some early adopters about what they loved about Bumble and what they wished they could see differently about the app.
We came up with a localised and tailored plan starting with October last year when we launched the full platform in India, making Bumble available on Android and really localising Bizz. Also, at the same time, we released a Hindi version and a Hinglish version of our app.
This was the first time in the history of Bumble that we were able to launch as a social network and bring all three modes to a market. We’ve seen some really exciting initial success. Since then, over two million “first moves” have been made on Bumble in India.
What are the challenges you are facing in India?
Our biggest challenge, and that’s why we’re doing a creative marketing campaign on it right now, is helping our existing and potential users really understand all of the features that we have available for them. But I’m not worried about it.
How closely are you working with Chopra Jonas?
We leaned on her very heavily to think about the strategy, the messaging, and the product features that we need to make Bumble as relevant and applicable to Indian women as possible.
We just closed the applications for new members for Priyanka’s team. She is looking to build her team globally (via Bizz). She is looking for somebody here in the US, and we’re also looking for somebody in India to support her and the team in her upcoming film The Sky is Pink.
What is the size of your team in India?
Our local team in India is small but constantly growing. We are based in Mumbai and have five staffers. They are in charge of everything from content creation, partnerships, influencer marketing, strategy, to all the way down to things like how do we make sure we show up in the most relevant bars and parties and host the coolest events.
They lean very heavily on our global team. Bumble has over 120 employees around the world. Apart from our headquarters in Austin, Texas, we have offices in the UK, Canada, Mexico, Germany, Australia, and India.
With the presence of several foreign and homegrown players in the Indian market, is Bumble having to play catch-up?
What’s interesting is that when we were doing our year’s worth of strategic planning, we also came to a similar conclusion that the market itself from a dating app standpoint is highly fragmented. There’s a ton of global players and a couple of big local players.
But we realised two things: we feel confident that we know how to support women as they are trying to make the first move in all aspects of their life, and we know that we are the social network where women and men can go to connect in love, life, and work.
When do you expect to begin monetising from India?
What’s exciting about being available in India for these past few months is that we have started to grow very quickly. There’s so much energy from potential users on the ground and potential partners to work with. There’s so much room for growth. It’s a great moment for Bumble to be in India.
Bumble as a whole is profitable, and we are fortunate to be able to take a lot of the great profits that we have and reinvest it back in our markets and users. That’s how we’re able to fuel so much at once globally and also in India.