Genetic Data: Potential Uses and Misuses in Marketing
48 Pages Posted:
Date Written: November 3, 2020
Advances in molecular genetics have led to the exponential growth of the direct-to-consumer
genetic testing industry, resulting in the assembly of massive privately-owned genetic databases.
This article explores the potential impact of this new data type on the field of marketing.
Drawing on findings from behavioral genetic research, we propose a framework that
incorporates genetic influences into existing consumer behavior theory, and use it to survey
potential marketing uses of genetic data. Applications include business strategies that rely on
genetic variants as bases for segmentation and targeting, creative uses that develop consumers’
sense of community and personalization, use of genetically informed study designs to test causal
relations, and refinement of consumer theory by uncovering biological mechanisms underlying
behavior. We further evaluate ethical challenges related to autonomy, privacy, misinformation
and discrimination that are unique to the use of genetic data and are not sufficiently addressed by
current regulations. We conclude by proposing an agenda for future research.
Keywords: Consumer genomics, Behavioral genetics, Technology, Big data, DNA data, Segmentation, Ethics.
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