Why Hinge is staging own 'death' to stand apart from sister-app Tinder

Now that the dating app Hinge is a fully-fledged member of the Match Group family, it has launched its first major international campaign that lets users across the world know how it differs from other better-known dating services.

Times have changed since lonely hearts became entwined through newspaper adverts. When the digital age broke, dating services were able to take a more direct approach, whereby singles could locate other singletons in their area through location-based search apps.

The dating app empire Match Group now owns upwards of 45 dating-related businesses. Earlier this year it acquired 100% ownership of Hinge, adding the 'relationship app' to its long roster of dating services that fit a whole spectrum of needs.

While proclaiming to be the fastest-growing dating app across US, UK, Canada and Australia, Hinge is still a long way behind Tinder in terms of downloads - even though they were both launched in 2012. Tinder is also owned by Match Group.

On Google Play, Hinge is behind Tinder by 3,228,820 downloads, while on Apple Store Tinder is ranked as the number two lifestyle app, compared to Hinge who comes in at 21.

Tinder is positioned as the more superficial, naughty app - where attraction is expressed via a simple act of swiping left or right with your thumb on a carousel of profiles.

Meanwhile, Hinge is measuring itself up as the more attractive, more serious relationship app for a younger demographic looking for love. Other dating services owned by Match Group include Match.com and OkCupid, who are used by an older audience.

“We want to share with the whole world that we’re designed to be deleted,” explained Hinge’s chief marketing officer Nathan Roth. “On Hinge there are no rules, timers or games as we’ve built an app that’s actually made for getting people off their phones and out on great dates.”

To get the message out from its small Greenwich Village office, it has now launched its first major campaign to ensure its differentiation is felt.

Up until this point, Hinge has gone low key on the number of campaigns it launches. It's last main campaign featured just two billboards in New York that asked passers-by 'what are your unusual skills?'

Carrying the tagline that first emerged in February – 'designed to be deleted' – the campaign is developed by Hinge’s long-term creative partner, Red Antler.

To illustrate how the app is willing to ‘die’ for its users to find love, the campaign introduces 'Hingie' – a little, fluffy app icon that gets harmed every time people find love. “That’s why we have various campaigns showing Hingie’s death – we’re letting singles know that Hinge is literally dying for them to find love,” explained Roth.

In 12 playful scenes, every time singles hit it off, Hingie meets its demise - from burning in a campfire to being attacked by pigeons, and even getting crushed by a falling AC unit. And while Hingie seems happy to sacrifice itself for love, the couples are so engrossed in one another, they don’t even notice.

This is the first time that Hinge will market itself outside of the US, running live in the UK, Canada, Australia and Northern Europe. It recognises that there is a major opportunity in bringing the app to new countries. “We’re expanding our footprint and aggressively expanding around the world,” said Roth.

While Hinge positions itself as an app that means to be deleted, this messaging contradicts its revenue model that depends on people subscribing to its premium option. While the app is free, Premium offers more advanced services through a tiered subscription model.

Hinge’s chief exec told The Drum back in April that the reason it doesn’t “use advertising… is because that would be pretty antithetical to the way that we work. If you run ads, then you need people to spend a lot of time on your platform so you can get ad impressions, and we’re trying to get you to spend less time in the app.”

Roth admitted that “people often ask how we stay in business if our goal is to lose customers.” But he explained that “It’s actually quite simple. There’s no better advertising than our user’s own success stories. Right now, most downloads come from happy couples who encourage their friends to give the app a try.”

Roth says that another feature that differentiates Hinge is the fact it is "the only dating app that asks people after they go on a date, how it went." For this reason, it is able to provide stats that claim three out of four users are interested in going on a second date and such a service demonstrates what makes it essentially different to Tinder - it's a relationship app that wants people to go on good dates that end well.

"Our mission has always been one thing and one thing only and that's building the dating app that's designed to be deleted," explained Roth. "So, everything from what we do now, from our product team to our marketing team is dead set on creating a real-world success instead of in-app engagement."

Although Hinge has “no plans to date” on expanding out from its small Greenwich Village office in New York, Roth doesn’t rule out an international office in the future. As things currently stand, Roth said Hinge has “a scrappy, nimble team that’s growing incredibly quickly. At the beginning of the year, we were at 28 employees and we plan to get to 75 by the end of 2019.”

Claiming to have no challenges, Roth gushed that “everything is going swimmingly” for the app.” And, as the burgeoning team sets its eyes on an international audience, Hinge is determined to become one of the major players in breaking up the Lonely Hearts Club.

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