If you are single and looking for long-term love, eHarmony.com Inc. wants to find you the "perfect mate." With traditional values and modern matchmaking possibilities, eHarmony.com has taken the electronic dating scene by storm. eHarmony has united more than 10,000 couples in marriage in its short history and, during 2008, had more than seven million registered users.
In 2000, eHarmony was founded by Dr. Neil Clark Warren an evangelical Christian who worked for 30 years as a psychologist specializing in counseling married couples. He also authored two books, “Finding the Love of Your Life” and “Date…or Soul Mate?”, the former selling over one million copies.
After a successful career of counseling married couples and research into marital problems, he came to one solid conclusion. In his biography on eHarmony’s website he states, “In almost every case, these were two persons who should never have married each other! They really didn’t belong together. They thought they did, but they were not well matched”. From there, he identified 29 dimensions that he found were consistently present in successful marriages. Dr. Warren found online dating as an opportunity to take his match making theories to a new level.
eHarmony’s competitive advantage is that it established its credibility by using a scientifically developed questionnaire based on Dr. Warren’s 29 dimensions. The questionnaire does not just ask for personal hobbies and interests, to be superficially compared to other profiles, but measures the user by the measures that Dr. Warren developed. These metrics match people up by deeper criteria than simply their hobbies and interests. eHarmony’s users are willing to pay a premium because of this credible method of match making. The website currently has 7 million registered members and acquires 15,000 new users a day. In the past year alone, eHarmony’s customer base has grown by 41%. When this figure is compared to Match.com, which only increased by 2%, eHarmony is seen as an increasingly threatening competitor.
eHarmony – The Company
The eHarmony concept was created in 1998 by Warren and Forgatch, to take Warren's scientific approach to love and marriage to the masses. Forgatch was eHarmony's "idea" man and chief executive, while Warren used his three decades of clinical psychology to make the concept work. Everyone involved with eHarmony had high hopes about its science-meets-love matchmaking capabilities; yet to Warren finding a soul mate was more than a business proposition, it represented the single most important milestone in a person's life. Finding a mate was tantamount to lifelong fulfillment and happiness—and he knew this firsthand, having been married for 40 years.
The eHarmony concept began with an in-depth 436-item personality profile (pared down to 258) covering 29 different "dimensions" of personality, such as character (curiosity, intellect, appearance), "emotional makeup" (anger, mood, and conflict issues), family values (background, education, spirituality), and traits (humor, sociability, ambition). Whereas some singles found the questionnaire tedious and exhausting, others applauded its thorough nature and found the results revealing and insightful. This, too, was no accident; Warren and Forgatch figured that only those truly committed to finding an appropriate mate would complete the entire process.
Once an interested person completed the questionnaire, eHarmony would search its database for matches, but only for individuals who met at least 25 out of the 29 compatibility areas. The results, according to the company's web site, would be "matches unlike those on any other online dating service" and "scientifically evaluated to be uniquely compatible" with each prospective eHarmony member. Once a match was found, however, love-seekers needed to officially become an eHarmony member by paying $59.95 for a one-month trial membership, $39.95 for...