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!
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