In 2022, multichannel consumers reached 46.3 million or 89% of the population. More mature digital consumers increased from 17.1 million in 2021 compared to 19.7 in 2022 (+10%). In fact, the Digital Rooted (+2%), i.e. digitally mature profiles skilled in social media and digital payments, grew to 8.4 million or 16% of the population. The Digital Engaged also increased, rising by 3 percentage points compared to 2021 to 11.3 million or 22% of Italians. These are some of the results of the research carried out by the Multichannel Observatory, promoted by the Politecnico di Milano School of Management and NielsenIQ and presented during the Multicanalità 2022 Verso un’esperienza di acquisto sempre più polarizzata (Multichannel in 2022. Towards an increasingly polarised shopping experience) conference.

New consumers

On the other hand, the number of Digital Bouncers (-5%), i.e. consumers who use the web as a support in the pre- and post-sales phase yet buy in physical shops, fell to 8.9 million. This cluster also welcomes young new consumers who are accustomed to the fluid use of digital technology but are not yet familiar with the purchasing processes in the different sectors. There was a slight increase in the number of Digital Rookies (+1%), amounting to 17.7 million individuals (34% of Italians), i.e. profiles that take small steps into the digital world despite the fact that their technological endowment is below average and their connection is mainly from a desktop PC. Finally, the Digital Unplugged (-1 percentage point), i.e. a category refractory to digital, are 6 million or 11% of the population, with 76% of consumers over 55 years of age.

Travel comes first

The travel sector is once again in first place for the number of individuals using the Internet within the purchasing process, with more consumers choosing the web when searching for information (73%, +2 percentage points) and when making a purchase (45%, +2 percentage points). Internet users mainly choose the web to gather information. On average, 65% find out about products and services online, with percentages above 50% in all user categories. This is followed by price comparison, carried out online by 58% of the sample.

Multichannel behaviour

Following the predictions of the last edition’s research, which showed that, in 10 years’ time, the Digital Rooted will be 30% and the Digital Engaged 32%, this edition also confirms and reinforces the thesis that the rate of multichannel behaviour and digitisation of the population is increasing steadily. This will also occur against the backdrop of a physiological decrease in the incidence of the less digitally-savvy categories, which are mostly made up of older segments of the population that are unlikely to evolve in terms of digital maturity.

Division into groups

“We are witnessing a structural division of the Italian population into two distinct groups in terms of capacity/opportunity for multichannel interaction with the supply system,” says Giuliano Noci, Scientific Director of the Multichannel Observatory. “On one hand, there are those who move fluidly from one touchpoint to another during their purchasing journey, assuming an integrated space (between physical and digital) of interaction with the brand. On the other hand, there are those (45% of the population) who have not developed these habits and are very much tied to physical points of sale for their purchases. This division is the result of a generation gap so strong that it is now leading to an (irreversible) polarisation of purchasing habits”.

Turning data into knowledge

“The polarisation of purchasing habits will increasingly push companies to increase the precision of their marketing and sales initiatives. Turning data into knowledge is the key to building an immersive and emotional UX as well as an effective and efficient one,” says Stefano Cini, Consumer Intelligence Director of NielsenIQ. “This is how data is transformed into customer knowledge, knowledge into relationships, and relationships into competitive advantage. The output is a significant increase in the ability to profile a target audience, personalise messages and increase conversion.”