U. FLORIDA (US) — Genetics may be responsible for what we buy and when we buy it, according to a new study about the buying patterns of twins.
“Whether we like science fiction, hybrid cars, jazz, mustard, opera, and dark chocolate all seem to have a genetic component,” says Aner Sela, assistant professor of marketing at the University of Florida.
Sela’s study will be published in the April 2011 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.
The findings suggest that even certain “irrational” choice tendencies may be inherent. Beyond specific product likes and dislikes, there is a genetic basis for selecting a compromise or middle option, choosing between a sure gain and a risky gamble, and favoring “vice” over “virtue” in the form of a utilitarian or hedonistic option.
These different styles of decision-making reveal themselves in a various ways when making consumer choices, Sela says. The tendency to select “vice” over “virtue,” for example, might show up in using a $4 gift card for Godiva chocolates instead of a package of batteries.
“Our research is groundbreaking with choice tendencies in general—do I tend to be risk seeking, do I tend to be compromising, do I tend to be variety seeking—making us really the first to show that those behaviors have a genetic basis.”
The golden nugget in this research is captured in the following statement:
“The finding that consumer preferences are often determined by inherent factors could suggest that companies might sometimes be better advised to let consumers take the lead in expressive preferences and then react with certain products, rather than relying on marketing tactics to sway customers’ buying behavior,”