Decades ago, a newspaper's "Personals" section was a small part of its revenue. Then came personal dating services, which were more profitable, but cost-prohibitive for the average romance-seeker. Back then, people met friends and potential dates through work, but with the proliferation of work-at-home and telecommuting, random "meet-cutes" at the water cooler are less possible.
Before long, online dating became the number one choice for 21st century romantics. At first, users of online dating sites kept searches close to home - within a 25 mile area. Then, as the pool of potentials became a known commodity, the search parameters grew to a 100 mile area and so on.
Today's love seeker is open to more options than ever before and the trend has become global.
In France, French Singles Online gained high visibility and popularity. One of its main attractions is that their membership is integrated with several other international dating sites.
BrazilCupid tops the online dating charts in Brazil and attracts users from all South American countries.
In Australia, the online dating scene flocks to JustSayGDay.
Dating sites have taken over in just about every country in the world and with as many segments as there are types of people.
According to IBISWorld, in the U.S. alone, the dating industry has reached $2.0 billion, an average of 2.9% per year increase over the last five years up until 2013. Companies offering dating services increased at an annual rate of 3.1 percent to 3,898 services offering matchmaking for a wide variety of partnership opportunities.
IBISWorld estimates that the number of companies in the Dating Services industry increased at an average annual rate of 3.1% to 3,898 in the five years including 2013.
Of course, the lion's share of the U.S. market goes to InterActiveCorp (IAC), which owns popular sites like Match.com, OKCupid.com, and eHarmony.
The growing popularity of the Meetup.com website has started to make a dent in online dating website usage. Refreshingly different, Meetup.com's mission is to get people "out of the house and away from the computer" and meet people the old-fashioned way. There are singles meetups and events. There are also groups that pull together people who love the same hobbies, passions, interests, skills and more. Generally free to join, the Meetup community continues to improve their software, website and meetup experience.
In a country where nearly half the population lives alone, singles will continue to find ways to connect with one another.
To stay on the leading edge of this progressive industry, will require observing the dating habits of the younger generations, who will offer the best insights for future dating trends.