Snapchat and Tinder are the two apps we have been talking about in the past few months. The former got a billion dollar valuation in its last round and a bigger offer from Facebook. While the latter is aiming at the billion dollar club without no shame, because they know what they have is explosive. These two apps have a lot in common, both of them are social and are about people, but the biggest thing they have in common is the range they look at.
The apps have a user base that varies from 18-25, which is the period after we finish high school and end up at University. These social apps, including Whatsapp and Instagram, even though they have a wider audience, are explosive in places where people meet, share and look for the “next relationship”. They are probably billion dollar trends, not businesses, but people’s usage is so massive that it gets you a ticket in the billion dollar club instantly.
Although they have been very popular in the United States and even in UK, I have seen a lack of interest from the italian Universities students. While in Manchester, the city where we are based, with a fifty thousand students population, these two trends are all over the place at any time from lectures to parties, in Rome, my friends don’t even know what Tinder or Snapchat are.
When we say Rome, we look at three Universities in a 3M people city, which means a possible user base of 100 thousand students. It seems strange to see that a trend like this hasn’t even taken place. If we look at the english and american market, we see that the penetration is successful in places where dorms and colleges are. If people live without their family, miles away, everything changes.
From a behavioural point of view, people feel more free to do things they wouldn’t be able to do while staying at home. That’s why they tend to go out more, drink more and socialise. When you pack thousands of students in a single campus, the social interactions that occur are countless. For this reason, people tend to be more open to look for a relationship or even a one night stand, because they don’t rely on anyone else.
That’s why Snapchat and Tinder are very popular on campuses. The first one lets you share even intimate selfies with the people you care about. While the second one aims at matching you with someone you like. If we look at these behaviours we see how difficult is to penetrate a market where people don’t live in dorms, but in their homes.
Although there are twice the number of students than Manchester, Rome doesn’t have any dorms and people tend to live with their family or rent an house, but it can be anywhere, so the social interactions, that occur in dorms, are basically inexistent. It’s remarkable to see how the usage of two billion dollar apps changes from country to country.
From an anthropological point of view, the simple fact of living in a different place, without your parents, gives you another personality and way of approaching challenges. These people are the same that uses Instagram, Whatsapp, Facebook and even Twitter, but they still miss a social side of the billion dollar club, just because of where and how they live. They’ll probably never hear of Tinder, which might not even work in a city like this, but Instagram, if it keeps growing, will have a chance to get a huge user base also here.
The conditions and the realities that surround you are fundamental to launch a product. I don’t believe it’s important to do a market research before you launch as long as you understand them while you iterate on your product. Different cultures and demographics can never be penetrated and that’s just a matter of facts.