OPW INTERVIEW - Jan 6 - Simplymarry.com is the POF.com of Indian Matrimonials. Sanjeev Kumar is the Head Of Business for SimplyMarry, which sits under the wing of The Times of India Group. Here's my interview with him. - Mark Brooks
Tell us about the Indian matrimonials market?
The online matrimonial industry in India came into existence in early 2000's and has now become a de facto option for people to find their perfect match.
In the initial years the growth was led due to cultural, social and economic factors such as the emergence of more and more nuclear families instead of joint families, people migrating to metros for work etc. This was followed by a phase where the growth was fueled by factors such as increased internet penetration, convenience and reach the internet gave. Currently it’s the third phase of growth for the online matrimonial industry which is fueled by the internet enabled smartphones, and a huge young population which choose for themselves rather than their parent finding a match for them.
What's your thoughts on Shaadi and Bharat Matrimony?
Bharat Matrimony is the leader in the online matrimonial industry followed by Shaadi and both have done very well and have contributed to the overall industry growth as well. In the last 15+ year’s most online matrimonial players have focused on web and continue to run similar product and business models. But now the companies need to think mobile first and both the product and business models need to change as what works on web might not work on mobile. The company which is able to do that and lead on the mobile front will become the overall leader in the next couple of years.
How are you disrupting the matrimonials business with Simply Marry?
We started with a belief that the online matrimonial industry is bound for disruption – reason being - the mobile and fast changing needs of young marriageable population. The current business models are subscription based where even if two users are mutually interested in each other they cannot take the conversation ahead unless one of them is a paid member – which is a mere 3-5% of the total active base.
We started with the hypothesis that:
- The existing business model (paid subscription to contact) is fundamentally broken as it acts as a blocker for potential matches to reach out and start a conversation which might lead into a successful marriage. This leads to bad consumer experience.
- Users today, and increasingly so, will not want to pay for – contact details or initiating a conversation. Connections on leading platforms such as FB, LinkedIn etc are free; it’s supposed to be free.
Thus we changed or business model and made our platform completely free from subscription. With Simplymarry.com – mutually interested users can start an instant conversation absolutely free without the need to buy a subscription. This has had a huge impact on user satisfaction and our metrics. We will continue to build on this value proposition and will leverage mobile capabilities to create successful connections & conversations between potential matches. They can then eventually decide to get married.
How do you drive new membership?
Marriage, unlike dating, is mostly a one time affair with lower life cycles - 6 months or so. Thus the business needs to continuously acquire users and with more active user base network effect kicks in. Also in India arranged marriages still mostly happen within the community - religion, caste being important criteria. Thus concurrent matching profiles is very important. For example, if we have 5000 profiles with certain demographics (religion, age, caste, income, education, location etc.) we need to acquire profiles matching their requirements for the network effect to kick in. This also will drive per user activity - contact or connections being initiated.
Thus our acquisition strategy is aligned to optimize on this. A huge amount of data analysis and automation is done so that the spends are optimized to achieve and build strength in the targeted segments or communities. So instead of spreading thin across communities we target segments where we have inherent strength and lead on those segments.
For paid matrimonial sites - this strategy helps better paid conversions (subscriptions) as well - as users will find more relevant and mutually interested profiles and would hence pay up to contact. The paid model creates misaligned incentives for paid matrimony sites as they make money when 2 free users become mutually interested in each other and are keen to talk. But Simplymarry being a free portal, wherein we allow users to contact and communicate with mutually interested matches for free, we are currently more focused on user activity and creating a seamless platform for 2 potential matches to connect and communicate.
We have a monetization strategy in place which I cannot talk about at this point in time - but it will be built around giving users more value and not around subscription as we fundamentally believe that the existing business model of paid matrimonial sites is broken.
Post by Mark Brooks @