Deepashree Banerjee

Woo woos youngsters with new security feature

Homegrown dating app Woo creates an ad highlighting how users can make voice calls without revealing their phone numbers.

Make the first move, but only when you know it’s right! While its global competitor, Bumble, stresses on the first bit, Woo, the homegrown dating app platform, asks its female users to always acknowledge and trust their 'gut feeling' and make the move accordingly. Woo has been part of the dating ecosystem since 2014.

Gurgaon-headquartered Woo, has developed two key 'safety' upgrades to their app – Woo Hide (allows women to browse profiles in ‘incognito’ mode) and Woo Phone (ability to make in-app phone calls). These are designed to help make sure that a female user's privacy is protected. Both features, according to the brand, are included based on data collected from a survey of 1,000 women in tier I and II cities across India.

Woo woos youngsters with new security feature

The campaign is conceptualised and created by River India advertising

The Woo Phone feature enables women to call their matched profiles from within the app without revealing their actual phone numbers. The ad is, however, not very different from a typical dating app commercial that features a boy and girl exchanging glances and connecting over a common interest... except towards the end.

Interestingly, unlike most of its counterparts (Tinder, Thrill, Trulymadly etc.), Woo comes with a heavier price tag. After the first free trial month, users have to buy a pass. While a monthly access pass goes for Rs 250, quarterly and annual passes cost Rs 550 and Rs 1500 respectively.

Woo woos youngsters with new security feature

Sumesh Menon

We spoke to Sumesh Menon, co-founder and CEO, Woo, on this recent effort and how user behaviour has evolved over the years.

“Our users are now more vocal on what they expect from the app and what features they think would help improve their experience. We generally over-index our product thinking of building from a women-first perspective,” Menon says adding that he believes this will be a real differentiator in the long-run.

According to him, the features are already a hit with female users and through the new film, Woo is highlighting the in-app calling feature while establishing it’s positioning - ‘The dating app that women love’.

In the first half of 2017, Woo acquired Los Angeles-based dating app - DUS - which focuses on the South Asian community in the US, UK and Canada and the acquisition will allow the brand to expand to these countries, among others.

Decoding the effort:

Woo woos youngsters with new security feature

Rahul Vengalil

The biggest challenge in today's social media/digital world is that of people not knowing who can access what information and from which platform. You are just a search away from a stalker getting hold of your information.

So, Rahul Vengalil, founder of What Clicks, thinks masking a number is not going to be the paramount of security today.

“Consumers have a really short attention span today; some claim it to be just seven seconds. In such a scenario, waiting for such a long time to even understand what you are talking about, that too just a feature, is a let-down. The brand is a nobody and at this point, it would have been better for the brand to establish itself first, before showcasing the feature,” he says making a potent point.

Is a Bumble or Tinder user going to jump ship and start using Woo because of this number masking alone?

Vengalil doesn't think so, saying, “...When competing with the deep pockets of international brands, they should have put more thought into this.”

Woo woos youngsters with new security feature

Karthik Srinivasan

The Woo Phone feature seems unique to the brand, so communications consultant Karthik Srinivasan is of the opinion that it makes sense for them to use this as the USP for their communication.

The effect works similar to the trust customers build like, for example, with Uber, where you call the drivers without exposing your number. “In Woo's case, it's even better since only women can call men, not the other way round. That's a fairly strong security feature that can help women feel confident and safe about this platform,” he says.

Of course, stalkers can still do a reverse-image search, find the women on other public platforms like Facebook or Instagram and still do damage.

“At the outset, the focus on security seems well-intended,” Srinivasan shares his take, adding, “I also came across a blog post by someone on Medium (an online publishing platform) who has explained why/how Woo is a scam. When some women see the ad and want to install the app for a trial, I'm assuming they'd also Google for reviews of the app and stumble on those like the one I found”, he quips. And, that, of course, won't do the app any favours!

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