Coming soon: segmentation by DNA by Ian Walkley, Managing Director of Colmar Brunton Brisbane The year: 2050.

A baby is born. A small blood sample is taken with parental consent (in return for a Government baby subsidy payment) and sent through to DNA screening. There, the sample is tested for congenital abnormalities, future disease possibilities, criminal potential and consumer segmentation. The results of the consumer segmentation are sent to subscriber companies around the world to be added automatically to their databases, which will predict behaviour for that person in terms of their combined demographics and DNA profile. Subscribers include recruitment consultants, large law firms and pharmaceutical companies, who provide education scholarships to hot prospects, and global FMCG companies, banks and telcos. Meanwhile, attendees at a nearby focus group offer their blood sample as a way of enabling commercial researchers to link their expressed opinions with their DNA for the purposes of validation of market segments for a new personal entertainment product. It may seem hard to believe, but we are at least part way there, and I will explain why it is quite possible we will get there eventually. There are numerous academic studies that establish associations or causal connections between DNA and behaviour. Most of these are related to criminality - we read about the FBI profilers at Quantico who track down serial killers based on their modus operandi and find common threads in their family upbringing and behaviours at a young age, and even further link this to family history (and hence genetic preponderance). Newspapers recently published a report of a documented link between left-handed women and breast cancer that also implied a DNA link with physical behaviour and health needs. Social researchers are busy identifying links between anti-social behaviour and the impact of genetics - for example, is there a gene that is likely to predict drug addicts, gamblers, drink-drivers or child abusers? Links have been found between business decision-making and the decision-maker's personal values; the decisions that managers make each day are strongly influenced by the ingrained attitudes or values developed in childhood. Research into what makes entrepreneurs and successful business owners has found that there are some consistent themes in the motivations that drive behaviour,

such as risk-taking, goal setting, proactivity, and intolerance of bureaucracy. The extent to which children take up similar professions as their parents or grandparents might also be partly genetic, and recent publications have suggested the genetic relationship is stronger than the lifestyle relationship in many cases. Links to reactions in the brain Neurological studies are linking attitudes to reactions in the brain. We know that reactions in the brain or other organs are the result of stimulation by hormones, for example such as adrenaline, which causes increases in the rate and strength of the heartbeat, dilation of bronchi and pupils, vasoconstriction, sweating, and other measurable nervous system effects. We can be stimulated in different ways by colours, flavours, smells, an advertisement, or even seeing a brand name (e.g. BMW, or Cadbury purple). If we can attach labels to people based on their physiological reactions to stimuli, it does not seem a great step to identifying the potential of individuals to respond in certain ways which we can influence by provoking the right physiological response. Customer loyalty is perhaps the most important goal of marketers. Knowing the cost of acquisition is much higher than retention, it would be great to be able to identify people who have a higher propensity of being 'born loyal' and establish the minimum requirements to keep them loyal. This would enable us to concentrate more on the 'vulnerables' - again, is there a gene that predicts 'vulnerables'? If we can segment our customers into groups that respond favourably to different stimulus based on physiological responses rather than self-reported responses, we will be much closer to achieving our goal of maximising customer loyalty. Clearly, there are many ethical minefields, but I wonder how many people would prefer to have only their favourite repertoire of products communicated to them as opposed to being bothered by the miscellany of irrelevant or unwanted marketing that bombards us day and night now? We are already heading down that path with opt-in and 'don't call'-type regulations, which have resulted from the excessive impact of telemarketers and junk advertising. As technology increasingly enables us to filter out unwanted messages, we will still want to find out about new products and services that we might need. It seems to me that the trends towards

physiological research might be a key to turning mass marketing into 'welcomed marketing' of the future.