Violet Lim, founder of Asia-based dating app and matchmaking service, LunchClick and Lunch Actually, started her company as a traditional “brick-and-mortar” service in 2004, where the focus was on busy professionals ready to take dating seriously.
The array of services offered by Lunch Actually Group, which now includes LunchClick, spans four countries and five cities: Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Jakarta.
According to the company, the service has organised 30,000 dates since its inception, resulting in thousands of “happy couples and marriages”. The company has reportedly seen 30 per cent year-on-year business growth over the past three years.
“We started to look at launching an app because we saw the market was flooded with apps that appealed to people looking for fleeting encounters,” said Lim. Reviewing Lunch Actually’s own brand proposition, Lim indentified a gap in the market and analysed competitor services.
“Singles who are looking for a serious relationship can find it difficult and frustrating to go through casual sites like Tinder,” said Lim. “The other thing is that men and women use these dating apps in a completely different way.”
For example, men tend to indiscriminately “click like” on the profiles of females to increase the odds of getting a match—essentially hacking the system and turning it into a probability and numbers game. According to Lim, women tend to be discriminating and considered in their approach.
“Some guys don’t even look at the screen when they swipe left [on Tinder],” said Lim. “Next in the chat, the guy says “Hi, what are you doing?” and the girl says “I’m just at work” and it’s all downhill from there.” Lim also notes that the male will typically ask the girl for her phone number, where chatting is taken off the app and onto a chat app such as WhatsApp.
Based on these insights and Lunch Actually’s core brand differentiation, which is to offer a service that caters to “like-minded genuine daters”, Lim wanted to develop an app with the same clearly defined audience.
“We knew it would be an app that some people would love and others absolutely hate,” said Lim. “And that would be a good thing.”
Choose a user-experience that personifies your brand
While Lim said LunchClick or Lunch Actually's other services can’t guarantee a successful relationship or marriage, the user experience is geared towards “weeding out” casual daters and guiding users to an offline experience.
“Most dating service emphasise the online experience, but dating is all about the offline experience,” said Lim, highlighting the user-experience goal for LunchClick.
The design of the app is based on a few fundamental mechanics that tie back to the Lunch Actually Group brand: the app only dishes out a single "quality" match per day. Similar to the Lunch Actually’s original offline matchmaking services, the app tries to emphasise quality over quantity.
Additionally, there is no chat function, and all user interaction is based solely on questions and answers; users can pick from hundreds of questions and send them to another user to answer. Based on the number of questions and answers that align, compatibility is indicated and users can decide whether or not they want to proceed to the next stage.
From there, the app aims to take both users offline through the “propose a date” function, where there are options for “lunch, happy hour, desserts please and strictly brunch”. The app then natively populates restaurant and dining options based on the users’ location and preferences.
“At the moment we are accessing this data through FourSquare, but we are also exploring the option of working with local restaurants and providers like Open Rice,” said Lim. “This could be a new model and revenue stream for us.”
Two months after launching, the app is free to download and use, and Lim said it will continue to be. The feature that users need to pay for is “Love Assistant”, which gives users “highly personalised real human assistance”. In other words, the app ties back to Love Actually Group’s traditional brick-and-mortar, matchmaking services.
“We do a lot of digital marketing, and what you would expect with Google digital marketing,” said Lim. “Facebook has been a great channel for us for promoting the app as well, and a lot our demographics there are 25- to 35-year-olds.”
A match-maker’s advice to marketers
- Think carefully about your brand and make sure your online and offline user experience personifies and functions like your brand actually would.
- “User-friendly” is a misleading term implying that your design needs to work for absolutely everyone—while actually neglecting a whole lot of people. Who are you really creating your experience for?
- Look for synergy between your offline and online offerings and strategies—but don’t force synergy where it doesn’t exist. Review your brand to discover unique ways to unite the two.