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Conference Report: Customer Loyalty Conference in Athens

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By: Nicole Wilhelm, Loyalty Expert |

Posted on November 15, 2023

From Gamification to Emotional Loyalty

How can brands create authentic and emotional customer loyalty? What does the loyalty landscape look like in Europe and Greece and what trends are shaping today and pointing to tomorrow in loyalty?

Those were just some of the questions being discussed during the Customer Loyalty Conference in Athens organized by Boussias Events and Marketing Week Greece. Natassa Siniori, conference producer and journalist shared: "We, at Boussias Events, believe in the power of shared knowledge and the growth that emerges from learning together. Our mission has always been to bring together industry leaders and experts and create spaces, physical or digital, where attendees can learn, discover novel approaches and network with peers. We hope that the Loyalty Management Conference informed marketing professionals of the latest trends, best practices and strategies that drive success and gave them a fresh perspective to navigate the dynamic landscape of loyalty programs.” 

With the central message "Unlocking the Power of Loyalty", this year's Customer Loyalty Management Conference, which took place on Wednesday, September 20 at the OTEAcademy Amphitheatre, presented to marketers the trends that shape customer loyalty, from gamification to emotional loyalty.

The agenda was filled with international speakers and loyalty experts, local brand best practices, and technology providers, each addressing their perspectives on trends in loyalty.

On an expert level, Charlie Hills, CSO from Mando-Connect gave an overview on “Loyalty insights across Europe” indicating the differentiated perception of loyalty in each European country. Tom Peace, MD at the Loyalty People gave an overview on “How loyalty programs can engage Gen Z” and Nicole Wilhelm, Loyalty Expert at get-focused provided a guideline and best-practice examples on “How Loyalty programs can create emotional loyalty.”

The international experts were complemented by Moira Clark, Prof. of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School stressing the fact that brands need to “Refocus on the customer if they want to drive customer loyalty” and Dr. Elia Gourgougis, President of the Happiness Center explaining how to win consumers’ loyalty for life.

Additionally, local brands presented their best practices on customer loyalty:

  • Despina Koulina and Elena Papalexopoulou of Coral, a Shell Licensee company, for example gave an overview on “Cultivating a culture of loyalty - in the case of Shell stations.” It was interesting to learn how the Shell (Coral- Shell Licensee) company engages with their employees to push their loyalty program to each station.
  • Further, George Theodorou from Metro Cash & Carry explained in detail how the brand is using gamification to motivate and engage with their customers.
  • Another example was given from Margarita Petropoulou from the National Bank of Greece. The financial brand is leveraging technological tools for better targeting, personalized campaigns, and real-time triggers.

The audience was highly engaged with the material shared by the panel of international loyalty experts and local brands who mainly consisted of brands operating in Greece. Most were in the process of either revamping their loyalty program initiatives or implementing a new loyalty program solution.

Melanie Avraam from Elpedison S.A., a Greek leading company in electricity production and gas supply shared why the role of emotional loyalty is so important for the energy sector, saying “With the "cost of living" crisis in the forefront, brands seem to struggle more than ever to secure long-term brand loyalty. In a commoditized market like the Energy Sector, high energy bills are forcing households to amend their spending habits and therefore emotional loyalty is the key mandate that Energy Suppliers need to address. Additionally, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that incentivized rewards, will have a significant impact on customer loyalty”.

Trends in the loyalty market such as AI, gamification, sustainability, and personalized benefits were consistently discussed in most of the presentations. Alexandru Ursu from Salesforce outlined that these trends are revealed by loyalty data. 63% of executives, according to a PWC 2023 survey, will increase their budget for loyalty programs, and at the same time consumers are asking for program evolvement indicated Nicole Wilhelm indicated in her presentation, adding that according to a consumer research from Kantar Retail, 71% of consumers claim that discount incentive does not make them loyal at all.

It was encouraging to learn that as a whole, the brands in the Greek market understand the importance of customer loyalty in building profitability and acknowledged the necessity to evolve their loyalty initiatives and programs to the next level to comply with customers’ expectations and increase their members’ engagement.

Overall, it was a brilliant conference with great insights from different markets and industries.