Grindr – Marketing Strategy: Connecting Gay Guys One Mouth at a Time

Fgo    July 9, 2015

Organization: Grindr


Industry: Social Network and Dating App

Contact: Joel Simkhai, CEO and Founder. Twitter: @grindr

Web References: TwitterGrindr,

Grindr, a social network and dating app, proves one more time that massive marketing campaigns, advertising and pompous ads are not necessary to succeed in business globally. Word of mouth is one of Grindr’s strategies, and they are doing a great job connecting guys mouth-to-mouth and mouth-by-mouth.

Matt, a press Grindr employee responded to my questions about their marketing strategy: “Grindr uses a combination of word of mouth, social media and public relations”.

Lets go back in time and see how this probably started. The gay community may be a minority in society, but it is a very strong, well connected one, and really eager to pass on the info about “anything” that is “gay oriented”. I am not saying that every gay guy will be sharing information publicly about life, services, products or facts that are gay related, but the results of a minority that has been oppressed for centuries has created a culture of information about things that may create a space of inclusion, support or relief.

In the past, we know that British and American law maintained a vehement condemnation of homosexual activity throughout the 19th century as stated in an article about homosexuality-nineteenth-century literature in e-notes. In fact we know that only few days ago the LGBT American people were granted equal marriage rights, yet this is only the 22nd country in the world to pass similar laws.

Organic Marketing in the Gay Community

During the 19th and a big portion of the 20th centuries, gay culture was out of sight in society. Gay people had to live and grow cultivating marks, symbols and codes that allowed them to communicate and create a sense of community. In many countries during those times gay men were associated with both extremes of society. On one hand there was a larger affluence of gay men related to the wealth and the arts: opera, theatre, or the high spheres of arts. On the other hand we had those who were in hidden bars in cities or hidden spots either in and out of cities or towns that were visited by all kinds of men who would communicate and pass information on with the eyes. Most of those sights may have been in places out of the way and generally would attract a more popular crowd. None of this had any advertisement or public exposure but this is very likely the beginning of a culture that allows Grindr nowadays to have a very strategic marketing based on word of mouth, topping their strategy with social media and public relations.

But there is more about marketing here. Grindr has its own way to market themselves and we have a clue about why they chose their marketing strategy. It is very organic as we stated previously. Although they are an application at the end, and their organic environment is social media in its most raw form. So social media has also been a way to obtain more followers. Beyond this strategy, Grindr is a business and they not only make money from the subscription fees people have to pay. You can download and use the app for free but they have a paid version where you have access to more features that allow you to interact in a better way with those you chat or use different tools in the app that allow you to have a better experience. Their other revenue comes from advertising. They are a business tool that helps you to promote your services or products. so Grindr is a marketing tool for others. According to adweek Grindr is only making 25% of their revenue from advertising, the rest comes from their adversising-free paid app.

Grindr’s network promotes mostly non-string attached relationships and the association this could bring to people is negative, but some companies are not afraid of being associated with this type of statements. Some will experiment with type of apps because in case of failure, it may not be a real bad one, but if they figure it out they will have a big advantage over their competitors.

Some other products that companies advertise on Grindr are concerts and shows that are predominant for a gay public or events that usually captivate the spirit of the gay community. For example, during the Pride festival 2015 in Toronto, Grindr was offering Madonna tickets. It is well known that public figures like Lady Gaga or Madonna are icons of the gay culture. Promoting sales of those tickets will not only capture customers, these customers will also encourage others to buy tickets and may share the information on social media which will create a big communication chain that will benefit everyone.

Grindr is the largest all-male mobile social network in the world. They have 10 million users in 192 countries.

Press Releases from Grindr

02.23.12 — Grindr for Equality Release – FINAL

10.01.13 — New Grindr press release – FINAL

Grindr Fact Sheet — 09.2013

03.25.13 — Grindr 4 Year Birthday – FINAL

Lesson for Others:

Analyzing your business, the industry you belong to, what the psychology of your customers is, and learning about the history of your target is essential. Business and marketing plans are not enough when you establish a business.

Listen: Gay community: how old times may relate to our social media era. 

The secret of Grindr seems to be related to the fact that they know how people like to connect in the gay community, what their needs and objections are and how important is to respect that secret way to expose your sexuality even if you are doing it through a social media channel. If you think that exposing your images and sexuality on a hookup/social media/network/dating app is like exposing your whole life, you may be wrong. Grindr is just like the old times in the gay community.

If you analyze your business and market properly you may find out that standard channels may not be the right ones for you. Social media opens the door to alternative ways to reach your customers.

Submitted by: Fernando Gomez, Social Media for Business Performance program. University of Waterloo. Original Video and audio created by Fernando Gomez and

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