two women smiling holding margaritas
Bumble recently paired with Cointreau to offer "Margarita Mondays," giving its Bumble Date and BFF members the chance to stoke new relationships with other attendees in real life. — Bumble and Cointreau

As part of a broader move to add an in-real-life dimension (IRL) to its user experience, dating app Bumble partnered with a spirits brand to lift the spirits of online daters seeking a reprieve from the sometimes soul-sucking monotony of swiping through profiles to hunt down potential romantic matches.

Bumble Date and its friend-finding spinoff Bumble BFF paired with liqueur brand Cointreau on springtime Margarita Monday bashes in New York, Austin, Chicago and Los Angeles, offering cocktail making classes in a bid to stoke meaningful in-person connections that pave the way to new couplings and friendships.

The partnership comes as Bumble, which puts the onus on women to make the first move, continues to ramp up face-to-face experiences for its users, with plans to open a coffee and wine bar this fall in New York City’s Soho neighborhood.

It’s the latest expression of an overall push by online players to add IRL elements to their brand equity, such as the 850 digital native retailers from Rent the Runway to Wayfair that are opening physical stores.

The IRL experiences being rolled out from direct-to-consumer brands, like makeovers by Birchbox beauty specialists at its Walgreens’ shops and cocktail lessons from Cointreau mixologists at the Cointreau and Bumble social mixers, are designed to serve as a kind of panacea to digital fatigue for consumers who now navigate much of their work and personal lives online.

Against that backdrop, daters in general are feeling the effects of burnout, Michele Tobin, Bumble’s vice president of partnerships, told CO—. She cited a recent survey conducted by Censuswide, which found that more than two in three people said dating can feel repetitive, and more than half find it hard to think of fun date ideas.

The survey findings are a sign of the times, said Sara Long, chief marketing officer of Remy Cointreau Americas. “This reveals that our clients are craving real-life connections but struggle to bring digital-first communications to life,” she said.

 group of people outside at margarita monday event
This interactive event comes as a result of studies showing that many singles find dating repetitive and have a hard time finding new and exciting date ideas. — Bumble and Cointreau

Courting ‘digital-first’ millennials

In addition to moving virtual connections offline, Cointreau and Bumble conceived the mixers to go beyond the routine dinner, drinks and happy hour dating rituals. “This partnership with Cointreau was an opportunity for our matches to connect face-to-face — not just to have drinks or dinner, but to bond over mixing up Margaritas,” Tobin said. “We wanted to make modern day dating even easier and we wanted to help plan out the dating equation with a fun, interactive experience.”

For the 170-year old Cointreau, which bills itself as the orange liqueur at the heart of the original margarita recipe, the mixers offered a fresh way to reach coveted millennial consumers, Bumble’s demographic sweet spot, while burnishing its positioning as an on-trend lifestyle brand.

“Our partnership with Bumble [provided] an opportunity for Cointreau to reach digital-first millennials and bring in-app connections to life over margaritas,” Long told CO—.

An estimated 63% of Bumble users are 18 to 29; 31% are 30 to 49; while a mere 6% are 50-plus, noted Scott Harvey, editor of Global Dating Insights, a trade publication on the online dating industry, citing SurveyMonkey Intelligence data.

Simply put, we want to explore different avenues where we can engage our expanding audience.

Michele Tobin, vice president of partnerships, Bumble

The brand collaboration also played to millennials’ entertaining inclinations. “Part of Cointreau’s brand ethos … is to exemplify the brand’s lifestyle and its ability to elevate ordinary occasions into extraordinary ones through a mix of essential elements such as at-home entertaining, art and fashion,” Long said. “We know that millennials, and today’s dating culture, lean into these three specific categories and beyond. Our clients are seeking the coolest speakeasies, the perfect outside patio setting, the most interesting art exhibits, and experiencing certain aspects of everyday moments in a new way. Some seek exclusivity, some seek convenience, and our Margarita Monday series hits on both,” she said.

‘Less like speed dating and more like a social mixer’

Offline events have become a bigger part of Bumble’s offerings over the past 12 months, Global Dating Insights’ Harvey told CO—.

“They're opening a bar in New York under the title Bumble Brew, and continue to run Bumble Hive popups in cities around the world,” he said. “What separates these events from other dating apps' efforts is that they are open to Bumble Bizz [its business networking site] and Bumble BFF users as well as singles,” he said. “I can see that helping the atmosphere — making it feel less like a speed dating night and more like a social mixer. It's definitely a strategy to watch.”

Bumble’s Tobin stressed that while Bumble launched as a dating app in 2014, it’s grown “tremendously” in the past five years into a social network that fosters connections in “love, life and work for over 60 million users in 150 countries,” she said. “We’ve almost doubled our user base since last year and we are a profitable company.”

 two hands holding margaritas doing cheers
The Margarita Monday events, which ran in May and June of 2019, were positioned as social mixers, aiming to increase excitement and minimize the feel of a traditional date. — Bumble and Cointreau

Mobile dating apps like Bumble are in their heyday, accounting for nearly a quarter of the estimated $3 billion U.S. dating service industry, outpacing the growth of other dating services as the social stigma of online dating fades and as more consumers connect to these sites via smartphones, according to an IBISWorld Report.

But as the industry braces for Facebook’s impending foray into the online dating sector, it seems fitting that Bumble is investing in a diversified business model as competition in the space heats up.

“Simply put, we want to explore different avenues where we can engage our expanding audience,” Tobin said.

For example, the site launched Hearst lifestyle publication Bumble Mag in April, answering member requests for “more stories, more advice, and more real talk about dating, career, friendship, wellness and life in general,” she said.

And it recently partnered with Netflix on its “Dead to Me” series. To fete the show’s release, Bumble offered free “Ride or Die”-themed SoulCycle classes to select Bumble users in 16 U.S. cities.

As for the Margarita Monday events, which ran in May and June, the mixers seem to have filled an unmet need for Bumble’s digital daters. “We have surpassed capacity at each event with incredible wait list numbers,” a Cointreau spokeswoman told CO—.

Next up for Bumble is collaborations with other like-minded brands to create “interesting opportunities and activations for our users,” Tobin said. “Look for partnerships coming soon with some amazing brands in the entertainment, beauty, health and wellness and travel verticals.”

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Published July 01, 2019