Genes govern consumer traits

Genes govern consumer traits

A team of American researchers who studied consumer preferences among twins found that certain consumer behaviours or traits have a genetic basis.

Their research, published in the Journal of Consumer Research, also found that likings for specific products such as chocolates, hybrid cars, science fiction movies and jazz seemed to be genetically related.

“We examine a wide range of consumer judgment and decision-making phenomenon and discover that many — though not all of them — are in fact heritable or influenced by genetic factors,” said Itamar Simonson of Standford University who led the study along with Aner Sela of University of Florida.

Studying preferences

For their study, the researchers examined consumer preferences of a group of twins to determine whether or not certain behaviours or traits have a genetic basis.

Surprisingly, they found a greater similarity in buying behaviour between identical twins compared to fraternal ones.

“It indicates that the behaviour or trait is likely to be heritable,” the authors explained.
They also discovered that people seem to inherit some tendencies such as to choose a compromise option and avoid extremes; select sure gains over gambles; prefer an easy but non-rewarding task over an enjoyable challenging one and look for the best option available etc.

Ketchup and tattoos

Some tendencies, however, did not seem to be inheritable — for example, a preference for a smaller versus larger product variety or likings for ketchup and tattoos, they said.
“The current research suggests that heritable and other hard-wired inherent preference components play a key role in behaviour and deserve much more attention in marketing and decision-making research,” the authors wrote.

They believe that their work may reveal some important information on the genetics of “prudence”.

“Some people may be born with a tendency to ‘be in the mainstream’ whereas others tend to ‘live on the edge’,” the authors added.

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