Swipe right for a sense of humor: 72% of single Americans say a shared sense of humor is important

February 8, 2021

For truly single* Americans, a shared sense of humor (72%) is the number one attribute they look for in a partner – more important than shared personal goals (52%) like owning a home or starting a family. In fact, according to new research from Mintel, the experts in what consumers want and why, the entire dating population puts shared sense of humor at the top of the list. One quarter (75%) of those in a relationship but not married agree, with shared personal goals (62%) coming in second place. Humor clearly holds the key to unlocking growth potential in the dating industry and for dating apps, in particular.

Mintel research shows that just one in five (22%) true singles meet people they may want to date via a dating app/website compared to two-thirds (66%) who have met the ‘old fashioned way’ in person (including through friends (41%) and at work (19%)), indicating that there is still room for expansion for online dating sites.

Gen Z** consumers have always seen their online lives as an extension of their in-person selves. As such, many expect to meet potential partners online: 23% of Gen Z true singles say they meet potential dates on a dating app and 36% on social media.

What’s not important to singles? Shared ethnic/cultural backgrounds as only 20% of true singles and 18% of those in a relationship but not married seek out this trait in a partner.

Kristen Boesel, Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst, Mintel said:

“Tapping into singles’ desire for a shared sense of humor could open up real potential for dating apps. The first app to introduce an intelligent algorithm that can accurately connect users by their sense of humor and match them up with suitable partners based on what makes them laugh, will set them apart in this very competitive and crowded market.

“Before the pandemic, interest in dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Hinge was beginning to wane, but lockdown drove thousands of singles online to find love and combat social isolation.
That said, it has limited consumers’ ability to meet potential partners in person, and lasting cultural shifts toward more time spent working, shopping and exercising at home will continue to prevent unmarried adults from making romantic connections in person in the future. Dating apps have quickly evolved to incorporate video dating and users may continue to start relationships virtually even after the coronavirus is no longer a threat.”

Celebrating single status… on Valentine’s Day… during a pandemic

With Valentine’s Day just a few days away, attention traditionally turns to those in a relationship and those looking for a partner, but brands can leverage the holiday to refine their messaging to singles. With nearly three in five (59%) US adults who are not currently in a serious relationship saying they are single and not actively looking for a partner, the vast majority are clearly happy with their relationship status. And this is not simply an impact of the pandemic: A similar number (57%) say they were also single and not looking to date for most or all of 2019.

More than two in five (43%) true singles say they went on a date in the six months between April and October 2020 – even a third (34%) of singles not looking for a relationship went on a date during this time. Among singles who are proactively looking to meet new people, 57% went on at least one date. Classic dates like a meal at a restaurant (21%) and a drink in a bar (10%) happened for some true singles. One in five watched a movie at home (18%) and cooked a meal at home (18%).

“Brands need to focus on messaging about singles living their best lives and not simply pining for a partner. It’s important to these consumers that brands support them and help them find ways to feel good about being single. While the pandemic didn’t stop Americans from dating, as and when businesses start to reopen and look to boost sales, deals on travel, live events and dining can be positioned as opportunities to spend time with friends, as well as potential partners,” concluded Boesel.


*True singles: internet users aged 18+ who are not currently in a serious relationship
**Mintel defines Gen Z as the generation born between 1995 and 2007

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For the latest in consumer and industry news, top trends and market perspectives, stay tuned to Mintel News featuring commentary from Mintel’s team of global category analysts.

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