Bharatmatrimony.com: marrying Technology and Matchmaking

“Love comes after the marriage,” says Murugavel Janakiraman, the founder and chief executive of one of India’s largest matrimonial website companies, BharatMatrimony

 

“My fiancé Steve had planned a special ‘picnic on the beach at sunset’ to celebrate the anniversary of when we started dating. It was a beautiful, romantic evening and the sky was filled with brilliant colors. Just as the sun set, he got down on one knee and told me that he loved me with his whole heart and wanted me to be his wife! I was so surprised and happy.”

 

These stories hold such sentimental value for people. For many Indian couples, the story goes more like: “We read each other’s resumes. He was born in a ‘good’ family, was rich, educated and had a good job. She was beautiful, educated and homely. Our families thought we were a good match. We got engaged”

Though this is a slightly exaggerated version of the millennial arranged marriage, this is how most of our parents got married. ‘Matchmaking’ is a common profession in India. With an estimated 90% of marriages in India being arranged [1], this is a lucrative business.

This site provides an interesting explanation of the process:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/201511/why-are-so-many-indian-arranged-marriages-successful

 

Traditional matchmaking industry

 

The history of arranged marriages is a long one. What started as marriages arranged by priests, parents and family connections, soon turned into a business for matchmakers. It is not uncommon in India to have newspaper matrimony ads or small ‘marriage bureaus’, specializing in various community matches. One would simply register with them, and the proprietor would then start hunting for suitable matches – often from other customers of the same bureau. This was, however, quite a rudimentary and limited operation, and relied heavily on manual filing and matching.

 

Taking marriages online

 

In 1996, Sagaai.com (later became Shaadi.com) revolutionized the matchmaking industry, followed by Bharatmatrimony.com in 1997. By 2003, around 200 websites mushroomed up, but these two dominate the online space.

Bharatmatrimony.com is now the market leader, estimated to have a market share of 60% of the online matrimonial classified market [2] helping 50,000 individuals to get married every month; [3] so much so, that it has been recognized in the Limca book of records for facilitating highest number of marriages over other Indian websites over a 7 year period – 1999 to 2006 [4]

Sites such as Bharatmatrimony.com have completely digitized the matchmaking industry. It works like match.com, where users upload their in-depth profile and specify preferences in a partner. On Bharatmatrimony.com, you can search for your future partner filtered by skin color, religion, salary, education etc. It even started  happymarriage.bharatmatrimony.com which is a content section that guides people to discover new ways to a happy marriage. Customers are acquired, not only through strong word-of-mouth recommendation and TV advertisements, but also through very effective use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

The way it differentiates itself is, it hosts 20Mn members on 15 regional portals across 22 regions. [5] It boasts a robust matching algorithm and data analytics capabilities. Its IMA (Intelligent Matchmaking Algorithm) won the NASSCOM award for Top 50 ‘Excellence in Analytics’ 2015, IMA is a home grown machine learning algorithm that computes results in real-time using Big Data technologies and Data Sciences. [6]

Its primary source of revenue (85% [7] of the USD 32Mn in 2015 – up over 16 per cent YOY) [8] comes from paid subscription for additional features such as viewing phone numbers (verified by the site), highlighting profiles etc. It has a robust telemarketing team that converts free members to paid members. The balance revenue comes from ads and classified listings of suppliers offering wedding-related services. It also hosts elitematrimony.com – a paid service which provides you a personalized matchmaker in addition to their algorithm and other services. If a matchmaker is not your style, bharatmatrimony.com will send your profile in an attractive format to 250 potential matches based on your preferences for a fee.

 

A happy marriage?

 

There are 60 million people in India looking for a life partner, but only 5.5 million are searching for them online. The remaining 90% is a market opportunity which is untapped. [9] The India Online Matchmaking market will grow at a considerable CAGR rate thus reaching USD 307Mn by 2020 [10] however, a significant challenge that bharatmatrimony.com faces is getting the 90% of the market connected to the internet. The recent launch of its mobile app is a big step towards this. People love the convenience of looking through profiles on their way to work or during breaks. Another significant challenge is verification of the data on the profiles, which is a significant concern to most people. Working in that direction as part of the auxiliary services it offers will encourage trust from a lot more people.

In all, sites like Bharatmatrimony.com have completely revolutionized the matchmaking industry, and it’s a trend that is here to stay happily ever after. (797 words)

 

[1] http://brandongaille.com/25-shocking-arranged-marriages-statistics/

[2] https://openforum.hbs.org/challenge/understand-digital-transformation-of-business/business-model/from-bharatmatrimony-to-bharatmatrimon-e-y

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/26/world/asia/india-arranged-marriages-matrimonial-websites.html

[4] http://www.bharatmatrimony.com/media/moneycontrol-limca-book-of-records.html

[5] http://www.slideshare.net/FamePerSecond/competition-analysis-of-matrimony-sites

[6] http://www.bharatmatrimony.com/awards.php

[7] http://www.slideshare.net/FamePerSecond/competition-analysis-of-matrimony-sites

[8] http://www.vccircle.com/news/technology/2015/08/19/bharat-matrimony-files-ipo-bvp-exit

[9] http://techcircle.vccircle.com/2016/10/12/90-of-online-wedding-market-is-untapped-says-murugavel-janakiraman-of-bharatmatrimony-com/

[10] https://www.kenresearch.com/blog/2016/02/india-online-matchmaking-market-india-matchmaking-industry/

Previous:

Is EZ Pass Poised to Take a Toll on Your Privacy Rights?

Next:

Disrupt Your Life With Headspace: Meditation for the 21st Century

3 thoughts on “Bharatmatrimony.com: marrying Technology and Matchmaking

  1. Very interesting post! For a lot of Westerners, arranged marriages are almost inconceivable, so it is so interesting to see the comparison here to Match.com and how in a lot of ways they are not that different. While the idea of marriage differs greatly across the globe, it is interesting to see that the barrier toward getting people to look for partners online is strikingly similar. In the US, only 15% of adults have used a dating website or app, with 23% still finding people that use dating websites “desperate” [1]. In terms of their “freemium” business model, I’m curious to see if this remains successful for them and what their conversion rate may be, as we have seen in our marketing classes that the key to success with this model is converting to paid subscribers.

    [1]- http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/02/29/5-facts-about-online-dating/

  2. To echo Haley, in the Western world, this particular technology application tends to have a bad connotation, as actively searching for a partner is often seen as “desperate”. I think the fact that the core activity of matchmaking is already part of the Indian culture actually allows the app to get closer to its potential. I do think the fact that it scans through a broader set of candidates and that it seems to pose lower entry barriers for less well connected or shier people, allows the app to find better matches for its customers (compared to traditional matchmaking). What I do wonder however, is if the availability of a “better match” around the corner (if one stays on the app a bit longer) will not end up taking it closer to the Tinder model.

  3. Ultimately this model is like many that have come before it, albeit in different industries: a marketplace. Just like Kayak, eBay, or Alibaba, it connects two parties for a mutually beneficial transaction. Users find Pareto optimal – the outcome that leaves both parties better than they were before. It exposes people to partners outside of their village or limited social circle. And it allows for market-clearing matches, which is a free market economist’s dream. This way, no one is “screwed over” because lack of access or information.

Leave a comment