Loyalty Observatory Conference: Italy Focuses on the Digital Loyalty Revolution

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on November 19, 2021

Editor’s Note: Wise Marketer is pleased to share this summary of the the 21st edition of the Loyalty Conference of the Osservatorio Fedeltà at the University of Parma. This is a yearly event where loyalty and CRM managers, experts, and consultants gather every year in October.

Over 650 delegates representing more than 300 companies from 20+ industries attended, with businesses in FMCG, retail, banking, utilities, ecommerce, and more in attendance. The event was held in person at the University of Parma, Italy and also cast via live streaming.

The conference was hosted by the Osservatorio Fedeltà (Loyalty Observatory), an academic organization created in 1999 at the University of Parma, Italy, with the goal of studying the adoption of loyalty management and the use of customer data in European retailing and overseas.

This conference report was submitted by Cristina Ziliani, Ph.D, Professor of Marketing and Scientific Director of the “Osservatorio Fedeltà” (Loyalty Observatory) at the University of Parma, Italy, where she also lectures in Loyalty Management and CRM.

We will continue coverage of the Loyalty Landscape in Italy with future articles and research.

Loyalty Observatory Conference Report

By: Cristina Ziliani

Over the past 50 years, the Information Revolution has impacted society and business, transforming our lives, attitudes, and behaviours and presenting companies with new opportunities and challenges as far as markets, business models, and touchpoints are concerned. Along this behemoth phenomenon, a smaller, quieter revolution has taken place in business thinking and practice: the loyalty revolution.

Customer loyalty has shifted from being the goal of a marketing “gimmick” — the loyalty program — to a strategic goal and, more and more so after the recent economic crises and the pandemic, the engine of economic and financial growth.

This “evolution of loyalty” is shaped by the availability of data, analytics, devices, and touchpoints provided by the Information Revolution. Loyalty and digital are bound together: think of loyalty apps, amazon Prime, or recognising your loyal customer with their biometrics in store.

The 21st edition of the Loyalty Conference of the Osservatorio Fedeltà at the University of Parma featured many impressive speakers and highly valuable data. Being true to the loyalty trade and because we are fond of loyalty and data, we track a NPS score for the conference each year. We are pleased to report that this year’s event scored a +58 — a  7 point increase over the previous year.

Slides and selected videos from the conference are available here.

The link will also guide you to discover extra content such as interviews (in English) with retail expert David Ciancio (courtesy of dunnhumby), loyalty expert Paula Thomas, CLMP, and the innovative loyalty app of Italian energy provider Sorgenia (courtesy of Advice Group).

Here are some highlights to share:

Simon Lonsdale, Retail Media Manager at Tesco, UK, presented the case of Tesco Food Lovers, a data driven approach to targeting communication across touchpoints that drove incredible loyalty.

Moving from supermarkets to luxury fashion ecommerce, Nicola Antonelli, Chief Marketing Officer at Luisaviaroma, shared the figures of their marketing strategy, driven by their online-only, exclusive, tiered loyalty program.

The Loyalty Observatory in Italy has partnerships and academic connections around the world: this year the Conference showcased the latest research by Prof. Michel Ballings, University of Tennessee and Amazon Visiting Research Scientist, with a ground breaking study of how sellers’ emotions negatively impact sales in live streaming ecommerce.

Prof. Yuping Liu-Thompkins, of Old Dominion University (Virginia) where she leads the Loyalty Science Lab, CLMP, and member of the Board of Regents at Loyalty Academy, provided guidance for brands on how to rebuild consumer habits disrupted by the pandemic.

Every year, since 1999, the Loyalty Observatory at the University of Parma runs research studies on consumers (representative of the population — thanks to the cooperation with NielsenIQ), on brands, and vendors of tools and solutions for loyalty, CRM and CX. The results of these studies are presented at the Conference and discussed with the partner companies that support the Observatory.

This year’s research partners included Advice Group, dunnhumby, and Promotion Magazine. Benchmark data on loyalty in supermarkets (14.9 million Italian families belong to at least one supermarket program) and fashion retail (5.6 million member families in this industry) have been discussed, alongside the first figures on how the food delivery business (e.g. UberEats, Glovo…) can influence customer loyalty.

Among the 4 million families that use these app based services, 55% are willing to change favourite restaurant/food outlet if it is no longer featured on the app, and 64% have tried new restaurants/food outlets due to app suggestions.

A bit more about the Osservatorio Fedeltà

The Osservatorio Fedeltà (Loyalty Observatory) was created in 1999 at the University of Parma, Italy, with the goal of studying the adoption of loyalty management and the use of customer data in European retailing and overseas.

Tracking of the loyalty practices of over 130 national and international food retail groups began in 1999 and provided the foundation for our understanding of the loyalty management phenomenon until 2000, when we expanded the monitoring to loyalty activities in other industries.

From the beginning, our goal has been to contribute to the development of a customer loyalty culture among Italian managers across all industries and support companies, researchers, and students interested in developing research projects, training, or simply knowing more about loyalty management, customer relationship management (CRM), and customer experience management.