Remember church socials? If you’re under 40, probably not.
Have you ever heard of Christian Mingle? If you’re over 40, probably not.
In the ancient days before the internet, church socials provided one of the few venues for churchgoing singles to meet their preordained soul mate. Church youth groups and summer camps provided additional venues.
But thanks to dating websites and smartphone apps like Christian Mingle, churchgoing singles do not need to rely exclusively on their local house of worship to find Mrs. or Mr. Right. Instead, they can tap into a massive virtual congregation of like-minded souls through dating sites.
For example, there’s Christian Mingle, which describes itself as “the leading Christian dating site for single men and women looking for a God-centered relationship.”
The church social is not extinct, of course. It still provides opportunities for fellowship and to socialize with members of the local congregation. But the neighborhood church is no longer the only game in town.
Instead, church socials, youth groups and other face-to-face modes of fellowship provide just one small slice of the modern, “omni-channel” world of Christian courting.
Today, dating websites like Christian Mingle are capturing a growing market share of the Christian courting scene. Perhaps that’s part of the reason church attendance has been declining steadily over the years. At the same time, the number of Christian Mingle subscribers has been soaring.
But Christian Mingle is just one of many faith-based dating sites. It certainly hasn’t cornered the market for “religion-centered” dating.
Dating Sites Get Religious
That distinction belongs to Spark Networks (NYSEMKT:LOV), the company that owns Christian Mingle and an array of other religion-specific dating sites.
A few of the other cupid’s arrows in the Spark Networks quiver include:
- Adventist Singles, “the leading [Seventh-day] Adventist dating site for single men and women looking for a loving, God-centered relationship built on love and mutual faith.”
- LDS Singles, “the premier destination for [Mormon] singles to find love, friendship and romance with like-minded people who share the same faith and values!”
- Jdate, “the leading Jewish dating site for single Jewish men and women looking to make a great connection with other Jewish singles.”
- JSwipe, Judaism’s answer to Tinder. “Launched on Passover 2014,” the Spark Networks website explains, “the app helps Jewish millennials find love, romance and friendship with singles in their local communities and across the world.”
Spark has an impressive array of religion-specific dating sites and apps. But the company has not been able to convert swipes into profits. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Spark Network’s religion-specific websites have become somewhat obsolete and outdated already — kind of like a church social. But at least a church social offers timeless goodies like cake and ice cream.
Religion-specific dating sites, along with many other interest-specific dating sites like FarmersOnly.com, ClownDating.com, HighThere.com and Glutenfreesingles.com, may still offer some specialized appeal to their subscriber bases.
But a mega-dating-app like Match Group (NASDAQ:MTCH) can now out-specialize these specialists. By using robust, proprietary algorithms and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, Match can connect two Christian singles as easily and effectively as Christian Mingle can — and maybe do a better job of it.
Not only could Match connect two Christians or two Muslims or two Mormons or two whatevers, but if those two whatevers also held a deep affinity for farming, clowns, smoking marijuana and munching on gluten-free brownies, Match could put those folks together as well.
Dating Sites Meet Their Match
The company owns an impressive collection of popular dating websites and apps, beginning with its calling card, Match.com. This titan of technological titillation also owns Tinder, OkCupid, Plenty of Fish and several others.
All of these online dating venues are agnostic with respect to religious identity. And yet all of them can connect like-minded individuals of almost any faith, interest group or dietary orientation.
Technology is the key to making efficient connections. One’s religious orientation is but one piece of an algorithmic mosaic. Complexity and nuance pose no major challenges to Match’s matching technology.
To be sure, many singles still prefer to meet a potential partner in old-fashioned offline ways. They can pretend to shop for avocados in the grocery store or take night classes at the local junior college. But Match has revolutionized the way single individuals interact with one another. Its dating and “hookup” apps are sociological game changers.
Perhaps that’s why the “bar scene” is also suffering at the hands of online dating apps. TGI Fridays, which burst onto the scene in the 1960s as the pioneer of the restaurant-as-singles-bar concept, has little to be thankful for these days.
Last year, the company saw same-store sales at its U.S. locations tumble almost 7% — punctuating what has been a long, downward slide.
Match Stock Is the Perfect Mate
Singles bars are simply no match for Match Group. The online dating leader is expanding its reach day by day and growing its profits at a healthy clip. During the last four years, the company has doubled its revenues and quintupled its earnings per share.
Despite these impressive results, Match Group rarely lands on an investor’s radar as a tech stock. And yet, that’s exactly what it is. It is a company that has applied AI technologies to great effect … and to substantial profit growth.
Perhaps that’s why the stock has trounced the S&P 500 since going public in late 2015. At the stock’s recent peak earlier this year, it had soared more than 1,000% in a four-year span — 10 times better than the S&P’s gain over the same time span. And it’s five times better than the gains of the S&P 500 Information Technology Sector Index.
As investors, we must remember to focus on the companies that apply technology successfully — not just the ones that develop and produce it.
I recently recorded a special video presentation in order to explain the growing gap between the best tech innovators and the rest of the market in much greater detail.
You can check that out here.
P.S. Something remarkable happened to me recently while visiting America’s richest ZIP code, which is located far from Manhattan, Palm Beach and Beverly Hills. First, someone smashed my car windows and stole thousands of dollars’ worth of video equipment.
But the good news is, I also found an incredible opportunity that could make you a lot of money — and it has nothing to do with real estate. I think this could be my next 1,000% winner. I’m giving away the details here.
Eric Fry is an award-winning stock picker with numerous “10-bagger” calls — in good markets AND bad. How? By finding potent global megatrends … before they take off. And when it comes to bear markets, you’ll want to have his “blueprint” in hand before stocks go south. Eric does not own the aforementioned securities.