The Adventure Gene
Often at dinner parties I am asked what the participants on our Epic Tours have in common. After all, a typical TDA tour will have participants as young as 18 and older than 70; scientists and truck drivers; males and females; all originating from more than a dozen countries and blessed with a whole spectrum of fitness levels and cycling abilities. More often than not, I simply reply that I wish I knew. I do not say this flippantly as every marketing guru will point out that a successful business must know who their target market is. So imagine my great surprise when, leafing through the National Geographic January 2013 issue, I came across an article by David Dobbs titled “Restless Gene” that provided me with the answer.
In the article Dobbs writes about “the compulsion to see what lies beyond that far ridge or that ocean is a defining part of human identity and success”. And what does he base this statement on? Well according to the author the answer just may be in our genome or specifically something that has been called explorer’s or adventure gene. Not in everyone’s genome – now I know why I suffer from Adventuratis – but in some of us ” there is a mutation that pops up frequently: a variant of a gene called DRD4, which helps control dopamine, a chemical brain messenger important in learning and reward. Researchers have repeatedly tied the variant, known as DRD4-7R and carried by roughly 20% of all humans, to curiosity and restlessness. Dozens of human studies have found that 7R makes people more likely to take risks, explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities and generally embrace movement, change, and adventure. Studies in animals simulating 7R’s actions suggest it increases their taste for both movement and novelty”.
So I ask the participants of TDA tours, does this sound familiar? Explore new places, ideas, foods? Embrace movement, changes and adventure? (As I am not one to dig deeply into other peoples’ business, I will not enquire about relationships, drugs or sex…as much as I may want to). Of course this is great news for our marketing strategy. At this stage, when it comes down to who is the TDA target market, it is obviously the carriers of the DRD4-7R. Now all we have to check is if Facebook-targeted advertising has a category of DRD4-7R carriers. Or maybe Google or LinkedIn. Stay tuned. And for all of you Adventuratis sufferers – you can now blame your parents.