Still thinking of NFTs as overpriced art? Fear not, this post will get you up to speed. Find out how NFTs are changing the way brands think about customer loyalty.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have transcended the art realm and are now changing the very nature of loyalty programs.
Imagine owning a unique digital pass that grants you access to exclusive events, connects you with a community, and gives you impressive rewards that can be easily sold or traded. This is where NFTs make their mark. From Adidas to Starbucks, brands are leveraging NFTs to create personalized, secure, and exciting loyalty programs.
This post will give you an overview of how NFTs are reshaping customer loyalty programs, including:
- How NFTs are made
- How customer loyalty programs can be enhanced with NFTs
- The household names using NFTs for customer loyalty and engagement
How are NFTs made?
Making an NFT is a two-step process. First, you create a digital artwork (like a picture or a song), and then you put it on a special online ledger called a blockchain.
Think of the blockchain as a giant, public bulletin board. Once you pin your picture there, everyone can see it. But, unlike a real bulletin board, you can't easily change or remove it. That's because everyone has a copy of everything that's been pinned there, and they all have to agree for something to be changed. This makes it near impossible for someone to fake ownership of your picture.
Once your NFT is on the bulletin board you can sell it in different places. Here are some popular marketplaces where people buy and sell NFTs:
- Opensea: Opensea was the first NFT marketplace and is still one of the biggest.
- Blur: A rival to Opensea since late 2022. Blur has grown increasingly popular by undercutting competitors’ trading fees.
- Rarible: A bit like a shopping mall that has stores from different places all under one roof. Rarible hosts projects from five blockchains.
- Solsea and Magic Eden: These are big shopping centers for NFTs, but they are on a specific bulletin board called Solana.
What does NFT “minting” mean?
The more you learn about NFTs, the more you'll see the term "minting" being thrown around. Minting just means creating your own digital art and then deploying it onto the blockchain.
A quick blockchain explainer:
Blockchain is a record-keeping system that records and stores information like any other database. Where blockchain differs from other databases is in its ability to store information in “blocks” that contain the records. When a new block is created, transactions (like NFT purchases) compete to be included because once they are in they become immutable.
How NFTs can elevate customer loyalty programs
Program access and administration
NFTs can make joining loyalty programs easier by serving as digital passes or tickets. Through blockchain technology, companies can quickly distribute these tokens and confirm who owns them, even on a large scale.
Distribution of rewards and experiences
NFTs are also instrumental in the distribution of loyalty program rewards. Gamification elements like quests, journeys, stamps, and achievements can be incorporated into your loyalty program tokens so you can gauge and quantify customer engagement. Rewards can then be automatically distributed to the most loyal customers.
With NFTs, you can create rewards that fit your brand and customer preferences like:
- Special access to events, online or in person.
- Tokens that can be used for certain goods and services.
- Early chances to see new products or services.
- Tickets that are easy to check for the real thing.
The rewards don't have to be tokens themselves, NFTs can just check if a customer is eligible to receive them.
An NFT community is a group of people who share a mutual interest in an NFT project or brand. Typically, members of the community either own NFTs from your brand’s collection or eagerly await an upcoming NFT launch.
Such a community provides a two-way communication channel with your customers. This channel gives you a better understanding of your customers so you can build an emotional connection with them – a key part of engagement marketing.
What is engagement marketing?
Developing a two-way conversation between your business and your audience to create and maintain meaningful interactions.
Seamless cross-collaboration between brands
If two companies have loyalty programs on the blockchain, smart contracts and NFTs can facilitate co-branded rewards.
What is a smart contract?
A smart contract is an autonomous program that will perform a certain function if the conditions of a contract or agreement are met. This process is entirely autonomous and secure, which eliminates the need for trust between parties to make a transaction.
With blockchain interoperability, different companies can connect their loyalty programs together. This means customers can earn and spend rewards across different brands, giving businesses a way to attract more people and providing customers with more reward options.
Customer data collection
NFT-powered loyalty programs help your business collect more meaningful customer data. 87% of Americans are willing to share data in exchange for more personalized and relevant rewards. The data collection process is entirely automated through smart contracts.
Blockchain facilitates data aggregation between multiple sources, fostering mutually beneficial data-sharing relationships.
9 Brands embracing NFTs for loyalty and engagement
Starbucks Odyssey members can earn stamps (NFTs) by taking quizzes, solving puzzles, or watching videos. Each stamp holds a designated point value that can be redeemed for exclusive experiences and rewards. Program members have complete ownership over their rewards, points, and stamps.
Gucci's foray into NFTs included launching Gucci Vault Land in the metaverse. This metaverse is hosted in The Sandbox – a decentralized community-driven platform. Through this, Gucci has been able to evolve in the metaverse while creating an engaged community.
3 NBA & WNBA
NBA Topshot offers fans the chance to mint, collect, and engage with their favorite moments through NFTs. Members are rewarded with prizes, merch, and more.
Prada introduced the Timecapsule NFT in 2022. Members are given exclusive access to online experiences, physical merchandise, and future drops. Each drop is linked to a limited edition physical product and a free NFT.
Lamborghini is using NFTs for unique experiences and collectibles, including a series of NFTs called “The Epic Road Trip”.
In partnership with Algorand, FIFA launched a digital NFT collection for the 2022 Qatar World Cup. The FIFA + Collect NFTs collection lets fans own and collect moments from both the Women’s and Men’s World Cup.
Lacoste expanded its NFT-powered loyalty program this year by introducing rewards and co-creation features for its community. The brand's focus is on creating deeper relationships with customers, inviting them into the creative process, and seeing blockchain as a tool to create a more inclusive digital realm
Reddit introduced blockchain-backed collectible avatars, allowing users to showcase and trade unique digital representations. Artists get paid for every collectible avatar that gets sold on Reddit, as well as being entitled to receive royalties from any secondary market sales happening on open marketplaces.
With a strong focus on community engagement and growth, Adidas's NFT initiative includes sponsored events, collaboration opportunities, and community-driven contributions.