Major change is approaching the retail market, as the long awaited biotech economy finally arrives in the form of consumer genetics.
Since the late 90’s biotechnology has been purported as a revolution to the economy, much like the IT-boom, but on a lesser scale. And much like the IT-era during the late 90’s and early 2000, there’s been many bad investments, due to the more regulated nature of the biotech business time spans are also longer.
Now, however, there are signs the market is maturing and evolving into a consumer centered retail market. Consumers in Sweden have become accustomed to ProViva, a probiotic juice. The next step in this evolution is also becoming clear. Since about 1 year Swedish consumers have been able to buy genetic tests in their local pharmacy, and a wide range of tests are available online.
As these tests become more commonplace, the same development which has been seen in consumer electronics and mobile software will appear in consumer genetics, and the retail business.
What, then, is consumer genetics and what can it do for you? Imagine getting truly personalized offers from the supermarket: “Since you are lactose intolerant, you get discounted lactose free milk” or “Since you maintain or lose weight better with a lot of unsaturated fat, you get discounted olive oil”.
In the gym you can achieve better results by combining a personal trainer with the knowledge of your genetic predisposition. Are you a born runner or will weight lifting have the better effect? Will you lose weight by exercising, or is a diet your only option, or do you belong to the unfortunate few for whom it is very easy to gain weight but very hard to lose it?
This is of course very personal and sensitive data, so how does data privacy work for this type of information?
Some tests will send you your results on paper, others make it available online. Some even offer an API to query this information, if you give your consent. Most testing companies solve this by identifying you with a code which is printed on your test, keeping the data behind thick firewalls and separating your name, address etc. from the actual genetic data. The idea, of course, is that you own the information about yourself.
The revolution will happen when smart retailers compensate consumers in the right way for sharing relevant data (individual traits, not your genetic code).
It’s a win-win situation.
Consumers get help understanding how to leverage their genetic information, and the retailer get loyal, empowered customers.
The tests exist. The APIs exist. Which company will dare go first? Read more in our White paper “Digitized Health“.