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When non-fungible tokens (NFTs) first burst onto the scene in 2020, most brands didn’t know what to do with them. What, exactly, do you do with digital images of Bored Apes? And how can a bunk of CryptoPunks possibly be integrated with your broader digital marketing initiatives? But we’ve learned a lot about NFTs since then, and there are a number of unique ways that brands might use them effectively to build engagement and awareness.
1 – Digital collectibles. The base case for e-commerce is simply launching a branded NFT collection of your own and making it available to fans on popular NFT marketplaces. Usually, this requires a collaboration with a name-brand artist as well as a branding or marketing expert that actually knows how to create NFTs. Think about what the luxury brand Gucci did with its first foray into the NFT space. They partnered with Superplastic to launch SUPERGUCCI, a collection of NFTs now available on the NFT marketplace OpenSea.
2 – Entry to exclusive communities. Some brands are using NFTs as a way to gate entry into exclusive digital communities. You can think of this as the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) strategy. People bought Bored Ape NFTs not just because they were cool-looking digital images but also because they could use them to signify that they were part of an exclusive digital club. In order to gain access to certain BAYC events, you have to show proof that you are a holder of a Bored Ape. One example of a similar strategy is from Adidas, which created its Into the Metaverse NFT collection. Holders of these NFTs gain certain physical and digital rights.
3 – Exclusive airdrops to loyal customers. Finally, it’s possible to send free NFTs to loyal customers. All they need is a digital wallet to hold the NFTs, and you can airdrop them. This is basically a super-high-tech version of the “Buy 10 coffees from us, and the next one is free” strategy. Only, in this case, you’re not getting a free coffee, you’re getting a free NFT. Obviously, this is going to work best if your core audience is digitally-savvy and doesn’t need detailed instructions on how to set up a digital wallet on their mobile phone. That being said, we now live in a world where you can buy expensive clothes from Prada and, in return, get a piece of digital artwork from a famous artist airdropped into your digital wallet as a token of appreciation.
Given these options, it is perhaps no surprise that the number of high-profile brands embracing NFTs is growing by the day. You have all the usual suspects – brands like Adidas, Nike, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola – as well as a lot of names that you might not expect, like Lamborghini and Louis Vuitton. Did you know, for example, that Salesforce now has a new offering (NFT Cloud) that lets brands mint their own NFTs? The potential adoption of NFTs by companies in nearly any industry is a sign that NFTs might just power the next big wave of social media e-commerce.