Friday, September 3, 2010

Ethnic dating sites

A number of dating sites try to carve out a niche by offering potentially good matches for customers with particular tastes.

The Globe and Mail reports on dating sites like, a matrimonial web site aimed at South Asians:
Matchmaking: The new generation

"A plethora of online dating sites now cater to the demand: aside from Shaadi, which boasts 2 million Canadian members and opened its first Canadian matchmaking centre in Mississauga, Ont., this past May, there is, which caters to high-income Indians, (with more than 16,000 Canadian members) and, among others.

"Unlike Lavalife and eHarmony users, members on these sites often have a parent looking over their shoulder – if not running their profile outright. About 30 per cent of the Canadian profiles on Shaadi are made by parents for their sons and daughters – and scrutinized routinely.

“That's something that doesn't happen on other dating sites,” said Anjan Saikia, vice-president of Shaadi North America. “Unlike the very individual orientation of white people, [with] people from South Asia, the boy looks at the girl, the girl looks at the boy, but they also look at the two families. At the end of the day, the bonding between families in our culture is very important to both the younger generation and the parents.”

"Among other criteria, the site lets members search by community, religion, caste and sub caste, although Mr. Saikia said most users don't base their choices on caste, but religion.

"The company recently teamed up with FastLife International, which organizes speed dating and singles' events around the world. About two years ago, FastLife launched events for Hindus, Christians and Jews, as well as East Asians. For this community, they host four events monthly in Toronto and two a month in Vancouver, Montreal and Ottawa.

“In Canada, there's a greater demand for these events than there is in any other of our markets,” says chief executive Justin Parfitt.

"Sikh and language-based speed dating are on the way, and the company has also partnered with Zhenai, China's fastest growing dating site.
"Asked whether he thinks it's right to segregate daters, Mr. Parfitt said, “Initially, we were a little leery of offering events based on ethnicity. But ultimately, dating isn't about political correctness: It's about people's preferences. When you're dating, that's the way it is. We decided to cater to that demand.”

Some other sites that cater to daters with particular needs are Jocflock.org (JOC stands for "Jews of Color"), and (on the funny side, but I think it almost qualifies as an ethnicity),  a site that (unusual among dating sites) is free for men but charges women--but the men have to be Harvard grads or students. (As far as I can tell without signing in, all the men so far listed seem to have HBS affiliations...)


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