In the old days, aunties, mums, meddling relatives, and friends of all kinds played the role of matchmaker. These days, dating apps play that role. The biggest dating app of them all is, undoubtedly, Tinder.
Tinder boasts over 9.6 million annual subscribers and generates revenues of over $1.4 billion. Its impressive revenues and enrollment numbers have been in large measure driven by Tinder’s age-based pricing system.
Tinder is now eliminating age-based pricing for all of its members in all markets by the second quarter of 2022. Why was there an age-based pricing system in the first place, and why is Tinder ending it now?
Why Did Tinder Base Prices on Age?
Web browser group Mozilla and a consumer lobby group called Consumers International deployed “mystery shoppers” in six countries—the United States, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Korea, India, and Brazil—to sign up for Tinder Plus and file a report on what they were charged.
The Consumers International report revealed that Tinder charges users between the ages of 30 and 49 a whopping 65.3 percent more on average in every country except Brazil.
In its defense, Tinder said younger users are “budget constrained.”
“When we launched our first subscription we wanted to offer younger members a lower price point than the standard price, to make Tinder affordable for those in school or early in their careers”, Tinder said in a blog post .
“Age and market were the only factors taken into account to determine pricing. Members 28 years and younger were able to purchase discounted subscriptions, and people in India, for instance, would see different prices from members in the US. Sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or any other demographic characteristic have never informed, influenced or determined pricing at Tinder”, the company added.
Why Is Tinder Ending Age-Based Pricing?
Not everybody is convinced by Tinder’s logic. In 2015, a user in California sued Tinder, arguing that charging older users more than younger users for the same service is age discrimination, and violates two California laws: the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Unfair Competition Law.
The California Appeals Court agreed. Tinder abandoned the practice in the US, the UK, and Australia. However, Tinder continued to charge users based on age in the rest of the world, until now.
Therefore, the combined forces of legal action, and the whistleblower report by Mozilla and Consumers International ( amongst others ), and negative media coverage, have put the final nail in the coffin of Tinder’s age-based pricing system.
End of an Era for Tinder
Young subscribers are critical to Tinder’s future because they are likely to use the service for longer than older users, and bring in more revenues over the long term.
Tinder is, therefore, at a crossroads. It will undoubtedly be forced to take a hard look at its pricing structure to make sure it defends its historical revenues without losing young subscribers to rival apps.