Lockdown blues spells boon for matrimony sites

No of paid subscriptions sold on BharatMatrimony websites

COVID-19 season has failed to make any dent in the growth of India’s matchmaking websites such as Matrimony.com, the largest.

Going by the numbers, youngsters in the country seem to be finding more time for online matching making services during the COVID-19 era than ever before.

In a year when most companies have seen double-digit declines in their revenue, Matrimony.com saw its match-making revenue increase by 4.2% in FY21 and its overall operating profit (EBITDA) jump 26%.

The number of paid subscribers on the platform have jumped by a whopping 20% to 8.4 lakhs during the year-ended March 2021 compared with the year earlier, driving revenue.

During the first three months of 2021, the company’s quarterly revenue crossed the Rs 100 cr mark for the time ever, clocking in at 101.6 cr, compared to Rs 96.7 cr in the preceding three months and Rs 94.1 cr for the first three months of last year.

This is an anomaly in a year in which companies have been proud to declare that they were able to arrest their revenue decline to 10 or 20% only, and is the result of the accelerated shift in matchmaking from the offline mode to the online mode.

Even before the pandemic, India had been seeing more and more match-making activity shift from the offline mode — in which couples get hitched by brokers or relatives, or via romantic interactions at the offices and parties — to the online mode, dominated by matrimonial sites like BharatMatrimony.com.

Devoid of such ‘normal’ ways to meet prospective partners, many youngsters have become more receptive to the idea of using online platforms like BharatMatrimony to meet their match.

The extreme social isolation and boredom generated by prolonged pandemic lockdowns have also forced many to realize the importance of having a steady life partner.

Finally, a large proportion of urban youth — who used to depend on apps like Tinder to alleviate loneliness — have also found it difficult to find casual relationships due to the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Some of these individuals too seem to have decided to “settle down” in a longer-lasting relationship via matrimony websites.

All this has been extremely good news for sites like Matrimony.com, which has seen strong revenue growth throughout the past year, even after offering discounts and incentives to lure more of its user base to upgrade to paid plans. Only paid members can send messages and see contact details of other members on such platforms.

Possibly because of discounts and incentives, the average amount paid by a user to upgrade fell sharply during the year to Rs 4,578 from Rs 5,061 during the previous year. This decline may also be because of users preferring to go for shorter duration plans — such as a three-month paid member instead of a six-month plan — due to paucity of funds.

Nevertheless, for Matrimony, the year 2020-21 — which is synonymous with COVID and disruption for most — marks one in which its net profit jumped from Rs 29.5 cr to Rs 40.8 cr.