OPW INTERVIEW -- Aug 9 -- Match.com is doing well abroad. Here’s my interview with the Match.com General Manager for France, Arnaud Jonglez. - Mark Brooks
What did you do before joining Match and how long have you been with Match?
I’ve been with Match since January 2007 and I started working in the internet back in 1997 when I started an online agency in Hong Kong. After that I worked for Lycos and Orange as well.
Lycos had a dating product. Were you involved with that?
Yes. Lycos acquired Spray network, the owner of SprayDate, a large Scandinavian dating service, that we rebranded into Love@Lycos. At that time, Love@Lycos was the very first dating service allowed to be featured on TV in France. France is a very regulated country. Now a lot of internet dating companies go on TV but at that time they were the first ones.
How much is Match advertising on TV in France now?
Since Match decided to invest in the French market in 2006, we did 3 big TV campaigns, one in Q3/Q4 2006, one in Q1 in 2007 and the other one last summer. We created some very nice TV spots that were custom made for the French market and focused on the long-term relationship. It really helped us and our brand awareness grew from 30% to 52% in just 10 months. We are now capitalizing on that awareness through important online campaigns.
How is Match.com’s position different from other competitors in France?
There are two kinds of dating sites in France – “self service sites”, where members are proactive and search the profiles and then “matchmaking sites”, where people take a test that can last up to one hour and at the end the system sends them the matches. The specialty of Match is that we have both. We still leave the control in the hands of the users but we also offer what we see as the best matching tests and services that are on the market, developed for us by Dr. Helen Fisher, one of the major researchers in the field of romantic interpersonal attraction and the author of “Why we Love”. We are targeting people that are around 30 years old. 50% of our member base is older than 30 years. The service is really made for people looking for long lasting relationships.
When we started in France, the online dating market was not well served. We discovered that France had the highest number of users who tried dating services according to a Comscore survey conducted last year. The survey found out that 22% of French web users tried a dating service at least once, when at the same time it was only 13% in the US, which is a much more mature market. But at the same time, when we were asking people if they were happy about the experience and if they would recommend it to somebody else, 60% said no. As the global leader we are present in 37 countries but we only saw this in France.
What the market was offering, was really short term relationships. Nobody was actually offering Love in the country of romanticism! We started asking people what they were looking for and most of them were looking for a relationship that works, a long lasting relationship. That’s why Match started to invest in the French market back in 2006 because the gap between the offer and users expectations was so big.
What’s the key distinctions between French internet dating and elsewhere?
People have different ways of expressing what they want and things may be appropriate in one country and not appropriate in other countries. But I think everywhere people tend to look for the same thing which is to find a mate and a relationship that works. In France we have a unique pricing. France is the only country in the world where we offer the service free for women.
Is Match mobile offered in France?
Yes we do have this service but we don’t push it very aggressively. We have it as an additional service that we offer to our users at no extra cost. Match mobile is not our key focus in France because we still growing fast on the web.
Are there any product introductions you can mention?
Since 2006 we have been rolling out our plan and made some strategic moves in France. First we launched a new site specific for the French market in 2006. Then in 2007, we increased the media pressure off-line and online and started offering the service free for women on Women’s National Day last year. It was great timing since our main competitor started charging women at the same time.
We do a big survey at least twice a year, where we ask our members what they would like us to develop and what their expectations are with online dating. We get more or less the same answers every 6 months which is to start a relationship that is going to work. So in January we decided to launch a French version of Chemistry that is integrated into the Match main service. So far the result has been amazing. Just during the first few months 160,000 people took the 30 minutes test, which shows just how interested people are in tools that help find their soulmate. For us this is also a proof that our vision of the French market and our positioning are right, so we have decided to invest even more in these features and released a V2 of this service just a few days ago. This service that we launched 8 months ago under the name Match Alchimie will help us accelerate our growth on the French market and stay ahead of the competition who is now trying to develop Chemistry-like products.