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Extramarital dating app Gleeden bets on ‘infidelity’ to make inroads in India

LiveMint logoLiveMint 29-05-2017 Harveen Ahluwalia

New Delhi: In a country where marital infidelity is considered a sin, how difficult will it be for a company, which runs its entire business on the concept of adultery, to make a mark in India? An American company is trying to find out.

A premium dating website/application for married individuals called Gleeden is making inroads in India and already has over 100,000 subscribers—121,500, to be precise. Run entirely by a team of 20 women, the website is free for female subscribers. For men, the site offers different subscription packages starting at Rs. 700.

“Because Gleeden is run by women, we think that women should not be paying for the service. We want the website to be women-friendly. Extramarital dating is a natural thing. When you are married for a few years, you need some excitement which people are now finding online,” said Solène Paillet, 29, head of communications and manager of the all women-team at Gleeden, in a Skype interview from Miami in the US.

Interestingly, the subscription packages for men are not defined by time, but by the number of conversations an individual engages in. Overall, Gleeden has 3.5 million subscribers across the world. Launched in 2009, the company is based in France and earned $20-25 million in the year ended March.

The idea behind the website, Paillet said, is not to interfere with the institution of marriage but to create a secure and anonymous space for people seeking affairs outside their relationships.

“Most of the dating websites are for single people. It was inconvenient for married people to meet others since they had to find partners in some dark circles. The idea is to create a space where extramarital encounters are confidential and discreet,” she said, adding that the site offers anonymity to its members and is safe to use.

The company, which has operations in several European countries, Latin America and Brazil is now eyeing India to cash in on the $130 million online dating market in the country. Being a global website, Gleeden has been available for use in India since inception, but the company had not viewed India as a potential market until the number of subscribers from the country rose.

“In India, we had natural subscriptions without any sort of marketing or advertising. People were interested in the website. We are growing month on month here and now, we want to market the product,” said Paillet, adding that the company is only looking at digital marketing and advertising as of now.

Of the total subscribers Gleeden has in India, 75% are men. There are only 31,200 Indian women subscribers on Gleeden’s website; 90,300 are men. The company has witnessed the highest traffic in Mumbai, followed by New Delhi and Bengaluru.

“Culturally speaking, infidelity is not accepted well in India. Indians are using the website more for flirting, which is the first step. The idea is new in India but people are catching up,” Paillet said.

So far, the online dating industry in India has been dominated by applications (for single individuals) like Tinder, Truly Madly, Woo, Thrill and Happn, according to data from consulting firm KPMG. About 6 million singles are estimated to be registered on several online dating applications across the country.

The dating market is primarily driven by the increasing internet penetration and the number of smartphone users across the country. “By 2020, there are expected to be 650 million smartphone users across the country, spending over two hours everyday on the internet. Anything that is app- driven will definitely gain traction on the Internet,” said Rajat Wahi, partner, management consulting, at Deloitte India.

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