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Monday, November 6

We were like that only

In my September 11 post, I had analysed Technology vs Psychology in the backdrop of online match making sites!

Recently, a spate of investments in the bride sites has made me curious about this space once again. In September, Yahoo! Inc. and the Silicon Valley VC firm Canaan Partners paid about $8.5 mn for a 10% stake in BharatMatrimony.com. Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers has plowed in $4.6 mn into Jeevansathi.com. And even the mighty Google is said to be prospecting for a partner in this space!

I think/ sense some fundamental tectonic shifts are taking place w.r.t Indians and their approach/ attitude towards marriage portals!

1. Online match-making in India is reaching tipping point. What was till very recently a medium that respectable middle class families used as the last resort has suddenly become the preffered option for many urban youth/ families!
Some 7.5mn people use the marriage sites, up from 4 mn in 2004.(Source : IAMAI)

2. The offline match making industry is worth $500mn. The online revenues today are less than 5% of that. But the shift to online is happening at an exponential pace!

3. The internet beats the search capabilities of traditional contacts. Busy professionals seek the speed of the net. The ease of finding many profiles under one roof is leading to their popularity. Also in an arranged marriage, till very recently the search for the partner was the responsibility of the parents and the extended joint family.

But the internet has transferred the search option to the boy/ girl in some cases. So its a case of compatibility first followed by the rituals of an arranged marriage.

4. Today, the emphasis has shifted from merely seekig a 'good family' and 'physical features' to 'compatibility issues' and 'seeking a professional'. Something which the internet lets one test in a much better way.

5. Online match-making offers another advantage. In India, there is a sort of stigma attached to turning down a marriage proposal. The Internet allows users to disengage easily and discreetly.

6. Middle class India is taking onto these sites with a vengeance. Let me share this incident of a close friend who's sister got a match through the net. The relatively net-unawares father was aided by my friend and his sister! The profile was actually penned by the bride to be, edited by the brother and the e-mail signed off in the father's name!

7. I suspect the barrier of inter-caste( if not inter-religion) marriages among the urban and rural middle class will be finally broken by these net sites...
The speed, accessibility and the sheer omnipresence and connectivity of these marriage portals will penetrate the last resistance of the caste based marriage system.

8. The Indian marriage accessory and lifestyle market which already is among the biggest in the world will get more organised. A lot of the services and brands will move onto the net.

Do share with me any other insights, observations and personal stories that you may have on the subject and in this space!


meraj said...

the least i can say is that i am off to a great indian wedding (translates into 10 days of madness). that tiny anecdote rings bell there. will get more when am back

and i shall be missing the rants...amidst the chaos there'll be no time for blogsville!


Manish said...

whens you leaving.... all the very best...

there is a very nice article by santosh in ET today on 'Making Consumers out of Human Beings'. Though there are dollops of Marshall McLuhan in it...

Let me know what you think of it...Also Roop, Harshal and the gang...

However, I felt the article takes the world of media as it were, not as it is now or in the future!

Converging technology and platform might demolish many existing boundaries between media!

All new platforms will change our behaviours and interaction...

Read it and then we will chat...

Pooja Nair said...

Sorry about the dissappearing act. Was out of town for 10 days and had a really busy week after that.Lots of catching up to do begining with the latest story...

You have covered every single point i can think of regarding the potential and implications of online matrimonies - however i doubt whether it will lead to an increased acceptance to intercast/inter-relegion marriages.

Infact, that happens to be the FIRST filter. Everything else follows.

And what adds to the popularity of these portals is that they provide you wiht a huge number of options within the filter!

pooR_Planner said...

Had the opportunity to work on a recent online marriage portal pitch...the Indian Matrimonial Market is worth USD 11 bn growing at a rate of almost 25% yoy. But marriage engagement through online portals is a mere 5% of the entire market.

Yes, the portals are breaking the boundaries of caste & creed and even class stratas. And the middle class is embracing them with vigour. This is a healthy sign. Atleast the new generation have understood (or on the process of) its the candidate in question that matters and not his/her social background to be happily-married-ever-after.

But most interesting, online portals can create great job opportunities.
Say for example, it can create a database of local (region specific) chefs and cooks, a database of decorators & florist, a database of tailors & jewellers and ofcourse a host of wedding planners. Set up offline Wedding Counters across countries by providing a job opportunity to our maushiji's & buaji's (Bharatmatrimony/ Shaadi.com has already started), provide legal advice, tie-up with bankers for marriage loans, help eliminate the still prevailing dowry system in semi-urban & rural areas, help the destitutes find prospective bride/grooms and them get married, etc.

This can be a true example of 'cause marketing' through a mix of online & offline efforts. Not just match-fixing but getting involved in creating "happliy-ever-after" couples in it's true sense.
And once you are involved in the saath-pheras, you create great Indian Wedding Stories for a stronger brand building.

Is polygamy legal in India?? ;-)

Manish said...

hey pooja...welcome back
I agree with the Filter issue that you have raised...but then again its the parents that use the 'filter lens' more...the young( at least many of them) use it to also experiment, seek beyond the narrow caste boundaries...

but as in everything in life...there are more than one segment...the silo-happy conservative youth and the seeker types - for whom compatibility > caste considerations!

Manish said...

roop , i love your 360 thinking...keep them coming!! cheers

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