Tinder is Re-Wiring Madison Avenue: Are You Ready for the Firing Line?

tinderThe following is a guest contributed post from Youtse Sung, Sr. Manager, Global Programs at Episerver.

With over 100 million downloads, 50 million monthly users and 1.4 billion swipes a day, Tinder has quickly become the go-to meeting place for the app generation. Through its fun, intuitive, and frankly addictive user interface, Tinder’s simple “swipe right for yes, left for no” approach has earned it a place on mobile home-screens around the world—not to mention a valuation of $1.35 billion. Tinderation is here!

While originally used for purely functional applications such as political polling (e.g. Voter) and recruitment (e.g. Jobr) sites, many such apps received criticism for their trivialization of complex issues. Where Tinderisation really thrives today is in the marketing and ecommerce space.

Indeed as the popularity (and controversy) of Tinder has grown, many brands have started to copy the brand’s simplistic yes-no interface for their own apps. This has kicked off a UX and design phenomena which rapidly become Tinderisation.

As unromantic as it may seem, if there’s one thing that Tinder is truly good for, it’s browsing. Tinderisation offers the perfect platform for those brands with visual products that are likely to be bought based on snapshot details such as color, price and aesthetic design. In this way, Tinderisation has given retailers back something that was previously lost in the rush to get online—the ability to browse.

One of the biggest issues for online retailers is their inability to generate any real notion of serendipity. Ecommerce sites are great at providing recommendations, accurate search results, and helping customers to find what it is that they’re specifically looking for. What they struggle with however, is re-creating the serendipity of a physical shopping experience.

Even ecommerce giants such as Amazon still struggle to provide an environment where customers can stumble upon goods that they’ve never even considered before—the “happy accidents” of a traditional Madison Avenue shopping spree.

With a Tinderised interface however, swiping through products to choose yes or no is just about the closest thing a customer can get to wandering through the aisles of a physical store. Products brush past their eyes in a flash of colour, without shipping details, abundant options or endless reviews. Just a scroll of colours and deals occasionally grabbing a customer’s gaze as they saunter from A to B.

This opportunity to reclaim the serendipity of Madison Avenue and supermarket browsing has resulted in an influx of fashion and retail brands looking to try their luck with their own Tinder designs. The online retailer Net-a-Porter has launched its own Tinderised app, allowing customers to browse the retailer’s catalogue and develop wish lists in a simple yes-no fashion. Similarly, Stylect has jumped on the trend with a swipe-based Tinder app for shoe shopping.

Even entirely new retail outlets have successfully launched off the trend, with the app-only Grabble promising to become the next “Tinder for fashion”.

While it’s all well and good for brands to jump on this trend while it’s hot, we in marketing must also be wary of how such trends will impact the wider ecommerce industry as a whole. As one example, the move towards Tinderisation could be seen as placing content marketing well and truly in the firing line.

Content marketing relies on a certain depth of information and customer experience. It relies on customers building slow, yet strong relationships with particular products and brands. However, as any critic of the Tinder generation will tell you, the decision to swipe right instead of left is anything but a “relationship”. Tinderisation, like Tinder itself, is not about relationships, but rather about aesthetics and the gamified nature of the app itself. This approach is opposed to that of content marketing, placing short-term decision making ahead of nurturing long-term brand loyalty.

As such, marketers that embrace Tinderisation should be wary not to undermine their own relationship building efforts. The Tinder interface provides an amazing user experience, but user experience is not necessarily enough. Brands must also look to cultivate their customers’ opinions, offering more than just a list of swipe-able products. Content marketing remains a vital part of that cultivation process. With a solid content and product database in your backend you can build real relationships and focus on a developing an interface that really works for you and your customers.