"Transforming everything...." - Cass Business School hosts Digital Consumption Symposium

"The digital world is transforming who we are and how we consume..."

So observed Professor Fleura Bardhi in her introduction for the inaugural Digital Consumption Symposium, which took place at Cass Business School on 21st October 2016.

Cass Digital Consumption Symposium

The event brought together leading academics from UK and International universities to present their ideas and research relating to three themes:

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 important.

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 marketing purposes.

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.