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Valentine’s Day 2016: Digital Connections and Traditional Celebrations

Valentine’s Day 2016: Digital Connections and Traditional Celebrations

Our most common habits and traditions are increasingly going online in a big way—from shopping to on-demand car rides to smart-home appliances—and it’s easy to forget what life was like before these tech solutions appeared.

So we wanted to ask—has technology changed the Valentine’s Day experience? Are people making more digital connections? Does planning for the most romantic holiday happen with mobile apps or some hot new service?

Using SurveyMonkey Audience, we asked more than 500 people how they used apps and technology in meeting their significant others and if it would play any role in their Valentine’s Day.

The results were a bit surprising. It turns out that while love connections are being made online or right from a smartphone, the effort that goes into planning a romantic Valentine’s Day is as traditional as the holiday itself. So even with the latest technology readily available, we’ve definitely kept one foot in the old world—where greeting cards, candy, and flowers reign supreme.

Here’s how the numbers for our survey shaped up.

Valentine's Day data infographic


Top apps and services

The top apps or dating sites among respondents were Tinder (44%), Plenty of Fish (43%), (39%), and OKCupid (29%).

Of those apps, more than 40% of respondents paid for features to increase their chances of meeting someone special. When we broke it down between men and women, men were 10% more likely to pay for a dating app or site than women.

When it came to specific dating apps and sites, men preferred Tinder (46%), OKCupid (39%), and Plenty of Fish (37%). Women also used these services, which is no surprise, since people typically go where other people are, but women also had a large presence at (50%).

Overall, there wasn’t any loyalty to one specific app or service. Respondents indicated that they moved between Tinder, Plenty of Fish, Match, and OKCupid as their go-to services. It seems then, since women have an extra presence on Match, that they are simply using another outlet to look for partners when other options grow cold.

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Age and location demographics

Looking at the breakdown geographically in the U.S., East Coasters used more apps and services, including lesser-knowns like Bumble, Coffee Meets Bagel, and Zoosk, while West Coasters kept their options a little more narrow. When it came to getting premium dating app features, West Coasters were more likely to pay for a dating app at 53% compared to their counterparts’ 44%.

Among people ages 18 to 29, Tinder was the runaway winner with 74% of respondents using the app, followed by Plenty of Fish (43%) and OKCupid (41%). For the younger crowd, only 28% of respondents paid for dating apps, with the rest opting for free alternatives.

For people ages 30 to 44, Tinder was bested by Plenty of Fish (56%) and Match (52%), and there was a higher likelihood to pay for dating apps and sites (56%).

The popularity of the specific apps and services for different age groups is most likely an indicator of an individual’s station in life: It’s really quick and easy to join Tinder—just download an app and you can look for matches with a swipe of your finger.

For more established dating services like Plenty of Fish, Match, and OKCupid, the signup process and profile building is much heftier by comparison. Additionally, the app or site people favor could be an indication of the type of relationship they’re seeking—either something in the moment, or something longer term.

And what about when romance begins to fade? When it came to the end of relationships, more than 80% of respondents noted that no matter who did the dumping, it was overwhelmingly done in person, and not via technology or social media.

Social media adds pressure

Since online dating puts your photo and status on display, we also wondered about the effect of social media in the Valentine’s Day experience. Are people Facebooking, Instagramming, and Tweeting about their romantic night? Overwhelmingly, respondents didn’t plan on sharing on social media, but more than half agreed that social media added to Valentine’s Day pressure.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t much reliance on other apps to plan a Valentine’s Day date—more than 80% of respondents said they had no plans to use shopping, reservation, transportation, or entertainment apps to plan their night. No Ubering, no getaway at an AirBnb, or reservations with OpenTable. So it looks like a lot of people want to make sure the night goes off without a hitch themselves, rather than relying on a service.

Classic gifts still rule the day

And despite all the technology in our lives, the gifts remain classic. More than 80% of respondents were confident that they would give and receive gifts for Valentine’s Day, and the gifts that led the pack were greeting cards (40%), candy (29%), and flowers (28%).

When it came to spending expectations, 63% of women planned on spending less than $50 for a gift, compared to just 37% of men. But men continue their trend of spending more on gifts than women, and were more likely to spend up to $100 and $150 for the special day.

So what do you think about the results? Was there anything surprising? Let us know in the comments!

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