The future of digital communication research: Considering dynamics and multimodality

Dhruv Grewal*, Dennis Herhausen, Stephan Ludwig, Francisco Villarroel Ordenes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Digital communication, the electronic transmission of information, reflects and influences consumers’ perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and shopping journeys. Thus, data stemming from digital communication is an important source of insights for retailers, manufacturers, and service firms alike. This article discusses emerging trends and recent advances in digital communication research, as well as its future opportunities for retail practice and research. The authors outline four consumer–retailer domains relevant to digital communication, which in turn frame their discussion of the properties of communication dynamics (e.g., trends, variations) within messages, communicators, and their interaction, as well as communication multimodality (i.e., numeric heuristics, text, audio, image, and video). These factors are critical for understanding and predicting consumers’ behaviors and market developments. Furthermore, this article delineates conceptual and methodological challenges for researchers working in contexts that feature dynamics and multimodality. Finally, this article proposes an agenda for continued research, with the goal of stimulating further efforts to unlock the “black boxes” of digital communication and gain insights into both consumers and markets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-240
JournalJournal of Retailing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Big data
  • Digital communication
  • Dynamics
  • Marketing analytics
  • Multimodality


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