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Fancy a quickie?

Tinder, 3nder, schminder. Welcome to the new world where non-committal promiscuity is the norm of the day (if not de rigueur), both in personal life and in business. Welcome to the "tinder" world with "tinder" business models.

One could say it all started with the "liberation of women" - being less dependent on men (husbands), women became empowered to do more things than just look after children and household. (I am oversimplifying things here, of course, since the whole feminist movement aimed to address a much wider spectre of women's rights).

When a child has two hard-working parents, it is hard to maintain a family in its traditional sense. Call me old-fashioned, but for me a philosophical representation of a family is an Italian/Greek/Jewish dinner at a large table. When both parents are at work, that often leads to all sorts of consequences and side-effects. One of them is the sense of independence, which also includes "non belonging".

Historically, one of the purposes of monogamy was confirmed fatherhood. That was important from inheritance perspective, as well as from parental responsibility point of view. The concept of independence - fiscal and physical - envisages, inter alia, exactly what it says on the tin: you are on your own. Once you are OK with being independent in that sense, i.e. OK with raising your child alone or OK with not having to raise your child, you are one step away from being "tinder". Especially when you are a young free spirit.

Is that bad? Well, it is what it is, as Tiger Woods and Kournikova tend to say. The world never stood still. Traditions, social norms and moral anchors do change (I decided not to use the word "evolve" as it implies some progress or improvement, which is not always the case with the matter in hand). Not everyone welcomes every change. After all, independence also means the right - or ability - to take charge, to review or to interpret the "norm". Ukraine, Syria, Paris etc - all those are the examples of "we see it differently and will act accordingly". You cannot, in the modern world, give one group of people the right to challenge status quo whilst preventing another group from pursuing the same. Surely, there are different means for achieving the desired result and it matters a lot, but that's beyond the point here.

My point is about business promiscuity. I am not talking about Generation Z and the rise of a freelance culture - after all, even Japan now understands that life-long commitment to just one company is no longer possible, for many reasons. I am talking about the messages we send to our customers. Trials, cooling off, freemiums, special offers, discounts, tie-ups and the likes are all the examples of quickies (or threesomes). Most importantly, without any commitment at either side.

If you decide to tie the knot after an enjoyable one-night stand, that's where things become different. Which reminds me of a joke about Bill Gates questioning why Hell today (hot inferno and pain), which he chose over Paradise (too calm and orderly) after touring both yesterday, was totally different from what he saw there previously (wild orgies and fun). "That was a demo!"

All of us experienced banks introducing new charges and mobile operators increasing prices in a non-debatable way at the end of a trial or "special price" period. You, as a consumer, can neither contend ("it's all in the T&Cs, dear customer") nor walk away ("it's an 18-month contract, dear customer"). No wonder that in the future you'd prefer to tinder as much as possible, without locking yourself into an uncertain future.

The moral of the story is about caveat emptor: when you enjoy the "tinder life", buyer beware of consequences and small print. Likewise, when you offer your target a quickie, think through whether your true intention is the knot, the chain or the noose: in business, you cannot sustain "just for fun" for long. Unless, of course, you run a "tinder" model where churn is the cost of doing business, STDs (negative feedback) can be cured with PR before they become chronic (bad reputation), customer acquisition cost is low (just flash some yummy flesh) and a new customer is just a promise away (as Cameroon Diaz put it in that Holiday film: "You're insanely good-looking and probably won't remember me anyway... I'm thinking we should have sex... If you want.") Can you indeed build a profitable sustainable business on the basis of non-committed passers-by? I cannot think of one. 

Look, even the Tinder man himself has been "tinderized" (in business, that is - his love has always been tinder, not tender).


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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

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