Ancestry Market Analysis
Part I of this report highlights insights related to common services people are using to trace genealogy, what these services cost consumers, and which geographical regions have the greatest demand for such services. Part II provides a demographic profile of consumers using ancestry services. Part III describes recent or emerging trends in this space related to new products or technologies. Part IV of this report identifies top competitors of the popular genealogy site Ancestry and presents a competitive landscape in an attached spreadsheet.
I. Genealogy and Ancestry Services — Insights
Ancestry and 23andMe dominate the genealogy services market in terms of revenue by a significant margin. Consumer investment into such services includes membership fees, travel expenses, and time. Market reports indicate that the highest demand for these products, specifically ancestry DNA tests, is in North America, Europe, and parts of Asia.
Ancestry and 23andMe are the Top Genealogy Services Companies
- The size of the global genealogy and ancestry services market has reached $3 billion as of 2019. The combined revenues of Ancestry and 23andMe account for 24.6% of the total global market.
- With a reported annual revenue of $619.54 million, Ancestry makes up 20.7% of the global market. 23andMe reports $118.51 million in annual revenue, which equates to roughly 4% of the global market.
- Several media publications credit these two companies with producing the "world's most popular DNA tests." However, reviewers agree that Ancestry has a larger database and is thus able to produce more substantial genealogical results.
- Ancestry has over 3 million paid subscribers, has tested more than 16 million consumers using its DNA kits, and operates in over 30 international markets.
- As of 2019, 23andMe has analyzed the DNA of an estimated 9 million consumers using its cheek swab kits.
Costs to Trace Genealogy include Membership Fees, Travel Expenses, and Time
- A 2018 US News article relates that family tree mapping and genealogical research can require significant investments from consumers in the form of membership fees, travel expenses, and time.
- Most ancestry services require users to pay a monthly or annual fee for membership. For example, Ancestry is the most popular genealogical services company and costs members an average of $189 per year.
- Genetic testing kits like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or Family Tree DNA can cost between $79 and $499 per test.
- Some consumers have reported spending anywhere from $2,000 to $8,000 per trip in travel-related expenses to visit places of genealogical significance as they map their family lineage.
- The greatest investment required to trace one's genealogy is time spent researching. Despite putting many hours into mapping family trees, consumers generally consider this a sound investment for the benefit of future generations and time well spent.
Demand for Ancestry DNA Tests is Highest in North America, Europe, and Parts of Asia
- A 2018 market report indicates that developed countries in North America and Europe have the highest demand for "ancestry testing using saliva-based or cheek swab DNA test kits."
- A 2019 MIT Technology Review reports that more than 26 million people have used a direct-to-consumer DNA test for genealogical analysis. The majority of these consumers are located in the US with data suggesting that as many as 1 in 25 Americans have purchased and submitted a DNA test for ancestral analysis.
- MyHeritage is a leading producer of ancestry DNA tests in Europe and reported a "450% increase in DNA kit sales across Europe in the first five months of 2018."
- Product promotion through platforms like social media has also led to a boost in demand for these genealogical DNA tests in Asian countries like Japan and China.
- China has a particular interest in these types of DNA tests for reasons beyond tracing family lineage. Infants in this region are often genetically tested to make determinations about potential career paths and other major life decisions based on the results.
II. Genealogy and Ancestry Services — Consumer Demographics
Millennials account for the majority of traffic visiting social media pages of genealogy and ancestry services companies like Ancestry, 23andMe, and MyHeritage. Most individuals visiting the official websites of top genealogy companies are located in the US. Consumers using ancestry products like mail-in DNA kits tend to be from white, higher-income families. Demographic information related to consumers' specific occupations or marital status is not publicly available.
- Millennials account for 44% of all visitors to Ancestry's Twitter page. Gen X comprises 39% of visitor traffic, and 16% of page visitors are Baby Boomers. Gen Z accounts for only 1.2% of Ancestry's Twitter page visitors.
- The majority of 23andMe's Twitter page visitors are Millennials (58%), while 31% are members of Gen X. Baby Boomers account for only 9% of page traffic, and a mere 1.8% of visitors are members of Gen Z.
- The majority of visitors to MyHeritage's Twitter page are Millennials (53%). Gen X and Baby Boomers account for 32% and 16% of page visitors respectively. Only 2% of page visitors are members of Gen Z.
- Nearly two-thirds (62%) of visitors to Ancestry's Twitter page are female, while just over a third (38%) are male.
- The majority of visitors to MyHeritage's Twitter page are female (55%). Forty-five percent of page visitors are male.
- Interestingly, 57% of 23andMe's Twitter page visitors are male and 43% are female.
Race and Ethnicity
- According to Pew Research, consumers who use ancestry DNA tests are more likely to be white than black or Hispanic.
- A 2019 survey found that 17% of individuals who have used a direct-to-consumer DNA kit are white.
- The same survey reveals that 10% of ancestry DNA kit users are black and 10% are Hispanic.
- Over the last month, 73.3% of visitors to Ancestry's website and 70.3% of visitors to 23andMe's website have been located in the US.
- Just over a quarter of families earning more than $150,000 per year say they have used an ancestry DNA kit.
- Of those households earning between $75,000 and $149,999 annually, 19% say they have used a mail-in DNA test.
- Fifteen percent of families with an annual income level between $30,000 and $74,999 have used a direct-to-consumer DNA kit.
- Only 9% of households reporting an annual income of less than $30,000 have used an ancestry DNA test.
- Millennials make up the greatest segment of the ancestry and genealogy services market and seem to be particularly drawn to DNA testing services like 23andMe. Members of Gen X comprise roughly a third of the total market. Baby Boomers who use genealogy services tend to gravitate towards more traditional industry leaders like Ancestry.
- More Ancestry and MyHeritage users are female, while more 23andMe users are male. This could indicate that female consumers are more likely to use ancestry services that consist primarily of historical archives, while male consumers are more likely to use products like DNA testing kits for genealogical research.
- The majority of consumers using genealogy products like DNA testing kits are white Americans.
- Higher-income households are more likely to use mail-in DNA kits than lower-income households and make up more than a quarter of the total consumer market.
We used a combination of trusted media sources, statistical databases, and website analytics to find demographic information about the types of consumers who use products or services to trace their family lineage. For the purposes of this research, we defined age in terms of the following generations: Baby Boomers (ages 55-73), Gen X (ages 39-54), Millennials (ages 23-38), and Gen Z (ages 7-22). We were unable to find any publicly available information related to consumers' specific occupations or marital status.
In an attempt to find occupational data and users' marital status, we began by searching trusted publications, industry journals, and statistical databases like Pew Research. When this method failed, we expanded our search to see if industry leaders like Ancestry or 23andMe publish any such information on their websites, in blogs, or on social media pages. This strategy yielded no results, so we tried to find any website traffic analytics that might be useful in determining consumers' occupations or marital status. After an exhaustive search, we determined that these data points are not publicly available.
III. Genealogy and Ancestry Services — Trends
One emerging trend in the ancestry services space is the merger of paper-trail records and DNA biotechnology to create a new type of genealogy database. Several ancestry services are also beginning to offer DNA tests that can identify genetic abnormalities and predispositions to certain illnesses.
Merging Paper-Trail Records with DNA Biotechnology
- Many genealogists view raw DNA data as an additional tool for mapping lineage. When a paper-trail is limited, DNA testing can fill in the missing pieces.
- Industry leaders like MyHeritage and Ancestry are offering new ways that users can merge their DNA test results with historical archives to create a more robust family history.
- The driving force behind this trend is primarily consumers' motivations for using mail-in DNA kits. Pew Research reports that 87% of individuals using these tests do so to trace their lineage or learn about their genetic traits. Combining a DNA database with paper-trail archives is a logical next step for leaders in the ancestry and genealogy space.
- MyHeritage released its "Theory of Family Relativity" product in early 2019. This new technology uses a combination of historical records and DNA sample analyses from its user database to map DNA connections and present findings in a graph.
- ThruLines is Ancestry's latest lineage-mapping technology that allows users to plot DNA matches found in Ancestry's database of over 16 million samples on their family tree.
Using Ancestry DNA Tests for Healthcare Applications
- Genealogy services like 23andMe are angling themselves as more than just tools for tracing lineage. Many industry leaders are now offering tests specifically geared toward gaining medical insights.
- These new medical history genetic tests effectively allow companies that have traditionally identified as genealogy and ancestry services to cross into the health and wellness industry.
- Developing a medical profile and gaining insight into genetic predispositions is the second-leading reason that consumers use at-home DNA tests, which likely drives this trend. Thirty-six percent of individuals who have used a mail-in DNA test did so to get more information about their family medical history.
- Ancestry recently launched AncestryHealth, its newest DNA testing kit that provides a comprehensive health report, access to genetic counseling, and tools consumers can use to chart generational health issues.
- MyHeritage also launched a new DNA Health kit last year that tests for genetic predispositions to 18 different diseases. It also provides a carrier status report for 18 genetic conditions.
We searched industry journals, market reports, and trusted media sources to determine recent or emerging trends in the ancestry services space related to new products or technologies. Each trend included is corroborated by reputable publications, championed by industry leaders, and expected to grow over the next two to three years.
IV. Ancestry — Competitive Landscape
Five top competitors of Ancestry are 23andMe, FindMyPast, Family Tree DNA, FamilySearch, and MyHeritage. All of these companies provide record databases, DNA tests, or both for the primary purpose of mapping family genealogy and examining one's ancestry. The attached spreadsheet provides information about each company's annual revenue, products, and services.
Summary of Competitive Landscape
- Ancestry was founded in 1983 and is the leader in genealogy mapping services. Members can search historical databases, other family trees, and DNA samples “from over 16 million people.” The company provides its ancestry search services for a monthly fee, and also offers DNA analyses for both genealogical and health-related uses.
- 23andMe offers DNA testing kits where consumers can learn information about their ancestry, genetic traits, and health predispositions. Its ancestry reports include over 50 items and can trace genealogy to more than 1,500 different regions. Its DNA kits can also test for more than 30 genetic traits and provide over ten health reports.
- The FindMyPast genealogical research team began its work as far back as 1965 and provides consumers with access to databases where they can trace their own family lineage. Users can build a family tree, search genealogical records, and access historical archives. The company also offers a DNA testing kit.
- Family Tree DNA was founded in 2000 and provides consumers with DNA kits used to trace ancestry and examine family history. The company offers tests that analyze both maternal and paternal DNA and can trace ancestry as far back as five generations. To date, more than 2 million people have used its services.
- FamilySearch is a free ancestry mapping service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Users can access family records for more than 4 billion surnames. The company also provides around-the-clock customer service and 4,745 onsite research centers worldwide.
- MyHeritage offers family tree mapping services and DNA testing to help consumers trace their ancestry. It has a community of more than 109 million users and 49 million family trees. Users can sync their family trees between their desktops, tablets, and mobile devices in order to access them anywhere instantly.
We searched trusted media sites, industry journals, and databases to find five top competitors for Ancestry in terms of products offered and annual revenue. Our scope was global and included competitors that provide genealogy and ancestry services mainly for the purpose of examining one's family heritage. We did not include companies that study genes or DNA exclusively for disease prevention or other healthcare applications. Since the second part of this report already discussed consumer demographics in detail, we highlighted each company's social media following and public perception in this section. All findings related to this competitive landscape are organized in the attached spreadsheet. Pricing for products and services is provided in US dollars.