Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 43, Issue 1, Spring 2024

Brian K. Steverson, Adriane Leithauser, Tyler Wasson
Pages 55-82

Trading In Our Lederhosen for Kilts
The Ethics of Marketing Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Ancestry Testing

The popularity of direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry services has exploded over the past five years, with as many as 250 direct-to-consumer genetic ancestry testing companies currently operating and estimates that 1 in 5 Americans are customers of one or more of those companies. Marketing of genetic ancestry testing has consistently linked the results of DNA testing to a consumer’s racial and ethnic identity, and, because of that, can help consumers find out “who they really are.” We argue that the “biologization” of race and ethnicity promoted in such marketing violates norms of marketing ethics. In particular, we show that this marketing technique violates a number of the core commitments and values of the American Marketing Association Statement of Ethics.