OPW - May 15 - Hiroshi Tsumoto is the CEO of Japan's no.1 iOS dating app YYC. iDate Beijing is coming up, so I asked him to give us an overview of his company and the Japanese market. Here's our 2nd ever op-ed. - Mark Brooks
Diverse, Inc was originally one of the departments of LINE Corporation, the company that provides the popular messaging app LINE. In December 2013, Diverse became a subsidiary company of Mixi, providing the same online dating service. We have two online dating services: "YYC" and "youbride". YYC is for people who want to have a casual dating experience and youbride is for people who want to find a future spouse. Users can access YYC from iOS/Android apps, PC/mobile browser, and from feature phones. YYC is no. 2 in the social networking category and no. 44 in sales for all apps on the App Store.
Mixi was not a dating site from the start. It is a SNS for users to enjoy communication with friends. As online dating services that use "Facebook Connect" have began to emerge, the online dating market in Japan grew gradually. However, online dating services are still not familiar in Japan. In general, Japanese people still hesitate to meet people via the Internet. Some people still consider that finding friends on the Internet is unhealthy. This is my personal thought, but Japanese mass media frequently report crimes in which young people (under eighteen years old) are involved. Thus, more demerits are highlighted than merits to meet people on the Internet.
Users refer to dating services as either "casual dating services" or "websites for marriage partners". The former is for casual meetups, like Tinder, and the later is more focused on marriage, like eHarmony. There's no middle term between casual dating and marriage partners sites. It's still not common to "just date" in Asian cultures. Many consider that dating is one of the steps to have a formal relationship.
After online dating services started using "Facebook Connect" 3 years ago the number of users has grown gradually. Around 1 in 10 Japanese are now meeting online now. Less than 10% of YYC users are from PC now and the rest are from mobile. Considering our numbers and the fact that the diffusion of mobile is more than 50% in Japan, the mobile ratio of online dating is very high. According to "Japan App Annie Index for apps" published by App Annie, our "YYC" is the top dating app. In addition, it is ranked no.6 in the domestic sales among all the categories.
To begin with, in Japan only 10% of all dating comes from online dating (including mobile and Internet). Because of that, we think there's a possibility for the market to grow. Moreover, there is an urgent need to prevent the number of children from decreasing. Under such circumstances, its important to increase encounters between men and women in Japan and we think that only way to solve the problem is through the Internet.
However, the reputation towards online dating will not get better soon. So we expect that the services which pair up online dating with Japanese original encounters such as marriage hunting party and Machikon (a type of matchmaking party with bar-hopping and restaurant-hopping) will play an important role and our company is currently moving in that direction. We want to achieve top sales in Japan on other devices such as Android and on mobile browser, as well as iOS.
- by Hiroshi Tsumoto