In search of love? Look to your DNA


December 17, 2019

The Hustle
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Ready for a totally tubular Tuesday? On today’s menu, we’re going to pair a few entrées with some after-dinner mints:

  • DNA-based dating apps are coming up hot.
  • You play the lottery? Young folks do not.
  • Luxury mini cars are popular with tots.
  • And clothing sizes are more complex than we thought.

Go forth and seize the day!

The Hustle Daily Email

Could DNA-based dating rewrite the laws of attraction?

Dating sucks. From village matchmakers to personal ads to dating sites and apps, there’s no perfect method for finding The One. But some scientists think the solution might be written in our DNA.

Not everyone is happy about this version of modern love

A “60 Minutes” profile of geneticist George Church covered a lot of weird science, but it was a conversation about his DNA-based dating startup (he calls it digiD8) that raised eyebrows… and Twitter ire. 

Many accused him of promoting eugenics and trying to wipe out people with disabilities.

  • In a subsequent interview with the WaPo, Church said the point of DNA-based dating is not to eliminate genetic diversity but to prevent fatal hereditary diseases like Tay-Sachs or cystic fibrosis.

Don’t swipe left just yet…

Church likens digiD8 to genetic counseling some couples already undergo.

  • But whereas those screenings help couples decide whether to have a baby, digiD8 would keep them from meeting in the first place.
  • It blocks users who “match” on certain conditions from seeing one another’s dating profiles.

There’s always other fish in the sea

  • Pheramor, another DNA-based dating app, makes matches based on the results of DNA swab tests and an algorithm that examines social factors.
  • The science is unproven — but so far the Pheramor app has about 10k users, around half of whom have sent in their spit for sequencing.
  • This hardly compares to the number of people using Tinder (50m) and Bumble (40m), but it’s not nothin’.

Given the prevalence of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, it makes sense that services — DNA-based dieting, anyone? — would follow.

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Lottery image

Millennials aren’t buying lottery tickets

Every year, around 49% of the US adult population buys a lottery ticket. 

But among the 121m or so hopefuls who buy these tickets annually, one group is woefully underrepresented: the young’uns.

A 2016 Gallup poll found that only ⅓ of millennials bought a lottery ticket in the previous 12 months, a much smaller contingency than those aged 50-64 (61%).

According to US Census data, younger people also spend significantly less on tickets.

Over the last 2 decades, the amount Americans collectively spend on lottery tickets has more than doubled, from $29.8B (1995) to $71.8B (2017, the most recent year data is available).

On a per capita level, this works out to ~$600 per player, per year.

But when this spending is broken down by age group, younger folks fall well below that average.

lottery graph

Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation have no qualms about dropping serious coin on lottery tickets.

So what’s up with the kids these days?

Analysts have attributed this disparity to a variety of things:

  • Young people prefer digital games and instant gratification.
  • Young people are more risk-averse than their older peers.
  • Young people value experiences over prizes.

Then, of course, there’s a healthy dose of youthful realism.

“I feel like everything’s just too expensive nowadays to just kind of throw away your money on luck,” one 21-year-old told Reuters.

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Mercedes toy car image

For the preschooler who has everything, how about a $400 Mercedes convertible?

Call it a pow-pow-power move. Automakers like Mercedes and Jeep are playing the customer LTV long game by selling mini branded cars to young children in an effort to start building that sweet, sweet loyalty from a tender age. 

  • The market for mini cars and other ride-on toys is worth about $625m, but little of it goes back to the brands.
  • On every tiny $400 Mercedes sold, the automaker might see $10 in licensing royalties

Which is just fine with Mercedes: A mini sale hooks a potential child and might even turn the parent into a bigger fan of the brand.

As one analyst suggests, middle-class adults who can’t afford real Benzes can put these wheels under the tree.

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Pants image

Confusing clothes sizes have inspired a new market for fit-finding services

Imagine a world where you no longer have to decide between buying a pair of pants in a size 16 or 18 and then, inevitably, sending one of them back.

A group of startups wants to make it easier to find the perfect fit.

  • True Fit combs through a massive dataset to match users who have given the company their body dimensions with the ideal size for each brand.  
  • Hemster partners with retailers to tailor clothing items based on customers’ actual sizes.

The future may involve the use of body-scanning cameras to produce a more accurate fit.

  • “Sizes will go out the window 10 years from now,” Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh told the WSJ.

But it’s still hard to find the right solution for everyone.

  • Even when people get a body scan, they often disagree with the result.
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The Hustle says…

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What Else…

🍿 The theater empire strikes back. Movie theaters are consolidating to compete against streaming services. A pending $1.6B acquisition will make Canada’s Cineplex the largest operator in North America.

👰 Speaking of movies. The chain Alamo Drafthouse is desperately trying to get customers to get married at their theaters. It’s better than branded sex jokes, I guess?

🎁 Don’t miss this oral history of the most awkward Christmas commercial ever. Remember the Folgers ad with the brother who is back home for the holidays and the sister who has grown up… and then things get really weird?

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