Please note that regulations and rules related to COVID-19 and reopening change daily. The information in this article is current as of the publication date only. Please check local, state, and federal regulations for the most current information about COVID-19 and your business.
How can your small businesses prepare for the surge in post-pandemic dating?
Even though 2020 was the busiest year in Tinder history, a lot of that activity remained virtual. The future of dating is fluid and changing, according to a report released by the popular dating app this year. And there are some key takeaways from the data for small businesses looking to market their services for date ideas: Digital dates are expected to be part of the new normal, and first dates will be more about activities than ice breakers.
In fact, 40% of Gen Z Tinder members plan to continue to go on digital dates. The app also saw an increase in bios mentioning outings such as fort-building and snowball fights, with the report stating that “activity-based first dates that skip the small talk will shape the next decade of dating.” That especially applies to Gen Z, which makes up Tinder’s largest user base. Data from Bumble, another dating app, echoes Tinder’s findings — suggesting that with people taking more steps than ever before to screen potential partners, businesses that offer safe, comfortable, and intriguing activities could attract new customers.
Here are some ideas for how your small business can get ready for the future of dating.
Partner with another business or host a community event
It might feel like hosting new activities for dates is a stretch for your business, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some examples to help get you started:
- Promote a BYO space: Iwi Fresh, a spa in Atlanta, partnered with the barbers at Atlanta Hot Shave to host an adult play date in the park, organizing games and encouraging daters to bring their own picnic items, while setting up spots to promote their business and products.
- Share your expertise: The tea shop Steep worked with Create Japan, which helps businesses promote Japanese events, to set up a tour of green tea, featuring a tea tasting, savory entrees, and desserts, promoted with the hashtag #steepwithlove.
- Build excitement with a pop-up: Estereo, a bar in Chicago, had family-owned mezcal brand Mezcal Vago pop-up with a private-batch release party featuring drink specials, a DJ set, and a local taco pop-up.
Focus on promotion
Once you’ve got your event locked in, build excitement via social media, email, and word-of-mouth marketing at your space. Make it easy for customers to share info about the event with a potential date by highlighting it on your Instagram account, making all the details easily accessible in the photo or the caption. And consider an email blast to your customer directory with details on the latest events and promotions that could entice daters looking for new activities.
Square Online Checkout
Use options like pay links, buy buttons, or QR codes for whatever you’re selling and share them with customers in all kinds of ways.
Embrace QR codes
Offering contactless and order-ahead options at your business can help make customers feel more comfortable on first dates. Self-serve ordering also gives you the opportunity to market that customers can enjoy more time with their dates while staying at their table.
Offer virtual experiences and delivery packages
With virtual and stay-at-home dating here to stay, consider continuing any digital pop-ups or special delivery offerings that have caught on over the past year, or try it out for the first time.
The Juicy Leaf plant shop in Los Angeles generated a surge in interest for the business by embracing take-home succulent kits that customers can get delivered and make together. On Friday evenings, owner Felix Navarro walks customers through the kits and answers questions over Instagram Live.
Businesses can offer a larger array of pre-curated food in smaller portions because some of the fun is sampling and trying something new with a partner. The small chain Tacos 1986 began offering mix-and-match taco platters during the pandemic that have stuck around due to their popularity, giving customers everything they need to have a fun night in. Rebel Rebel wine bar in Massachusetts started up a similar offering, partnering with fellow local businesses to add flowers and desserts to their wine delivery sets.
Try appointment dates
Blythe Coffee in Oakland lets customers book their own exclusive appointments for two, giving them a great option to market to interested daters. If you have options to create intimate spaces at your business, consider blocking off appointment opportunities for customers looking to bring a date.
Partner with a dating app
The dating app Hinge partnered with the Lesbian Bar Project this year, encouraging users to visit lesbian bars while providing interactive bar kits to help daters spark a conversation and build a connection. Check with other business groups and community organizations in your area or field for similar opportunities.