DNA Marketspace Assessed by Hirschman for Marketing Literature


Elizabeth C. Hirschman, a professor in the business school of Rutgers University noted for several classic studies in the annals of consumer behavior, will present a paper co-authored with DNA Consultants principal investigator Donald N. Yates at the June American Marketing Association conference in Washington. Titled “Altruistic Economics and Consumer Cooperatives in the DNA Marketspace,” the paper is a case study on direct-to-the-consumer DNA testing, a field pioneered by Oxford Ancestors, Family Tree DNA and other companies beginning around 2000.

Hirschman and Yates survey the roots of the new industry in the Human Genome Project and present several instances from Internet discussion groups how consumers add value to and participate in the design of DNA products. They estimate that the number of people who have purchased a DNA test now exceeds 1.5 million, and that the value of the market (excluding paternity testing) in 2011 will reach nearly $150 million in sales.

The paper discusses in ancillary fashion some of the criticism of DNA test offerings by scientists and public policy analysts, but its primary purpose is to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the surprisingly energetic activities of users in the DNA marketspace.

Altruistic Economics and Consumer Cooperatives in the DNA Marketspace