Dating apps driving marriage agencies out of business in Japan

Marriage consultation agencies have filed a record number of bankruptcies in Japan over the past year as people switch to dating apps.

A total of 11 marriage agencies have filed for bankruptcy in the country, while another 11 closed, suspended their operations or were dissolved, The Mainichi newspaper reported.

This marks an all-time high for services that traditionally helped individuals find their matches and tie the knot, according to data published by the research firm Teikoku Database.

Factors such as Japan’s declining birth rate and people marrying later in life have contributed to this trend, but dating apps are viewed as the decisive factor sealing the fate of marriage consultation services.

According to a survey released by Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance in November 2023, one in four couples who married within the previous year said they had met through matching apps. The same number said they had married people they met at work.

There is still some demand for traditional marriage services as the agencies are trying to attract new clients with offerings like online interviews and “marriage hunting” parties, The Mainichi said.

However, the Teikoku Database report noted that it was difficult to differentiate them from other companies with basic services and it is “very easy to fall into competing just on price.” High advertising costs are putting additional pressure on these firms, it said.

Meanwhile, dating apps are also investing in ways to claim an even bigger share of the market, including a greater focus on privacy, something that marriage consultation services normally paid greater attention to.

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