"Transforming everything...." - Cass Business School hosts Digital Consumption Symposium
"The digital world is transforming who we are and how we
So observed Professor Fleura Bardhi in her introduction for the inaugural
Digital Consumption Symposium, which took place at Cass Business School on 21st
The event brought together leading academics from UK and International
universities to present their ideas and research relating to three
Digital Materiality: this session looked at how consumers
regard digital objects in comparison to physical equivalents, the level of
identification they have with both, their preferences for one or the other, and
how access to objects rather than possession is becoming increasingly
Digital Self and Relationships: this session looked at how
consumer identity is changing and asserting itself in the digital world, from
online bragging to the phenomenal growth of the "selfie". It also looked at how
companies have adapted these expressions of consumer identity for their own
Digital Communications: in this session the effectiveness
of companies' attempts to influence and capitalise on topical trends occurring
in social media was analysed. A study on the impact, both complementary and
otherwise, of social media networks on the consumption of news was then
presented. The session finished with a look at the way technology has increased
our desire to consume.
The keynote presentation of the day was delivered by John Deighton, Baker Foundation Professor of Business
Administration at Harvard Business School. Entitled "Marketing in
the Age of Surveillance", it stated that the contemporary consumer is now
largely a digital consumer and as such generates enormous amounts of personal
data that is of interest to business. So much so that hundreds of billions of
US dollars a year are spent on marketing activities that rely on this data. It
speculated that one day wars may even be fought over data, as they have and are
still fought over oil. However, he dismissed concerns that the great advances
in digital technology has engendered an epoch where personal anonymity can no
longer be maintained, as consumers began to give it away freely decades ago in
exchange for a credit history.
Professor Deighton praised the participants of the Symposium for truly being
thought leaders in this field of research.
Professor Bardhi commented ""We were delighted that Professor Deighton was
able to join us and share his insights on consumer marketing. The Symposium
was an excellent opportunity for the academics and students from the Cass Digital Leadership Research Centre to
connect with our peers to find the answers to some of these pertinent questions
around digital consumption."
The day culminated with a panel of digital industry leaders offering their
views on the matters raised during the day and fielding questions from the
audience in what was a lively discussion.
Tweets relating to the event can be viewed here.
Researchers from Cardiff University; Boston University (US); Royal Holloway;
University of London; the University of Milan; MIT; the University of
Liverpool; Imperial College and Bocconi University (Italy) took part in the
Symposium. The full list of speakers can be viewed at the Cass Business School Digital Consumption
Symposium events page.