Should marketers personalize products using consumers’ DNA?
According to a study from the University of South Carolina, marketers will soon be able to derive “hyper-personalized” shopper recommendations from internal biomarkers such as saliva, breath and blood samples.
According to the research, companies are already working to customize product lines such as home-delivered meals and skin care based on analysis of a customer’s DNA sample submitted through an at-home blood test. Additionally, nutrition companies are partnering with firms that produce wearable technologies such as fitness trackers and skin-serve sensory patches to notify users of bodily needs that can be satisfied through the consumption of specific products. RFID tags and quantum ID tags are also expected to support such customization.
“Technologies are now in place that will transform the consumer goods industries in the next five to ten years; most notably in health, wellness and beauty products,” said Mark Rosenbaum, lead author of the study and chair of the retailing department at the University of South Carolina’s College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, in a statement. “We envision consumers increasingly purchasing products, such as vitamins, meals and cosmetics, that are formulated based upon a consumer’s unique DNA sequence.”
The research reinforces Under Armour’s conviction that the data the brand is collecting from its Connected Fitness platform on individuals’ nutrition, sleep, activity and fitness will one day enable recommendations well beyond purchase history. The platform includes MapMyFitness, Endomondo and MyFitnessPal and has more than 220 million members globally.
The University of South Carolina study noted, however, that consumers so far tend to be wary of “intrusive” technologies. Risks include biomarker data being hacked and the legal ramifications of incorrectly reading a consumer’s biomarkers.
Yet the study noted that such technologies carry lifesaving possibilities. Wireless technologies, such as RFID-NFC, could potentially prevent consumers from knowingly purchasing counterfeit pharmaceutical drugs or infant formula. Consumer behavior will also change as decisions are increasingly informed based on bodily needs.
The study noted, “Consumers will become more passive participants in retail consumption as they rely on technology for need-recognition and product-fulfillment.”
- It’s about to get personal – University of South Carolina
- The digitization of health care retailing – Journal of Research in Interactive Marketing
- Under Armour Third-Quarter Conference Call – Seeking Alpha
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see purchase recommendations for health, wellness and beauty products increasingly driven by biological data? Could this technology radically change how these products are sold? What factors will work for and against purchases informed by bodily needs?