Lessons in pivoting from the Chinese LGBTQ dating app that shifted to health | WARC | The Feed
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Lessons in pivoting from the Chinese LGBTQ dating app that shifted to health
BlueCity, which began as a dating site for a marginalised community in a place where it remains very difficult to be gay, has shown how it is possible to keep close to different stakeholder objectives while carving out a niche in an area of health where discretion is advised.
Why it matters
Companies that work in tough spots or serve users or customers in tough spots are good models for how a smart, problem-solving company ought to operate, and how a solid business can be built around trust.
A piece in Rest of World magazine looks at the recent history of BlueCity, China’s largest internet company focused on the LGBTQ community and in the ascendant across Asia with more than 60m unique users, and a NASDAQ listing in 2020.
- Beginning as a forum and dating service, BlueCity’s key pivot was to shift to sexual health, aligning its non-profit wing with state public health initiatives that sought to tackle HIV.
- Its trusted position in the Chinese gay community has led to the launch of a new app/service, HeHealth, which operates as an online hospital and pharmacy offering discreet consultations and treatments. Since the beginning of 2021, the service has started prescribing and delivering two HIV prevention drugs.
- This has been key to the firm’s survival at a time when other LGBTQ dating services or forums have been taken down by internet platforms under pressure. Interestingly, BlueCity rarely uses the word “gay” and uses subtler terms like “community” in order to avoid being seen as an activist firm.
- But the state needs the LGBTQ community if it is to tackle HIV, with trusted platforms helping to yield more accurate information about the illness than could be achieved through a direct state effort. This worked for BlueCity, which needed to be on good terms with authorities in order to operate.
- Community/user-base understanding must flow from the top of the organisation.
- Growth is about offering more services with greater resources rather than changing focus.
- Multiple organisations’ objectives can point in the same direction.
Understanding your community is fundamental
“With a long history of serving the LGBTQ community, we have an unparalleled understanding of their needs and concerns” – Baoli Ma, BlueCity Founder and CEO, speaking to Rest of World.
Sourced from Rest of World
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