The big new world of NFTs: ‘As the physical and digital worlds collide, brands have the opportunity to engage with and reward their biggest fans’

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pic:getty/justsuper
Pic:getty/justsuper

Related tags: NFTs, Budweiser, Marketing

Without the resources or knowledge to strategize, create, mint and distribute an NFT collection, smaller brands still remain intimidated by the idea. But NFT agency Myntr likens the ascension of NFTs to that of eCommerce: initially used by big brands but eventually used – and embraced – across the spectrum.

New York headquartered Myntr says the tech has gone beyond being a novelty: and that the barriers to entry for both brands and consumers are not as high as imagined.

Let's start at the beginning: What's an NFT?

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a digital asset that you can prove you own via the blockchain and can be any form of digital media (an image, video, audio file, etc.).

NFTs increased in popularity during the explosion of the crypto market in 2017, but didn’t truly become a mainstream talking point until early 2021.

From games and collectible assets to legal documents and brand membership, how NFTs are used is broadening.

“That expansion of use cases is the biggest link between NFTs and growing interest from marketers because as we have seen our world transition to a more digital age there are more and more eyeballs in the digital space,”​ explained Jeff Robie, co-founder and head of client success at Myntr, a NFT agency that wants to be the ‘go-to’ resource for brands who want to create NFTs.

“Not only that, but as the physical and digital worlds become even more interconnected it will only help the crypto and NFT ecosystem even more. How many people use cash daily now? How many times have you used your apple wallet to attend a concert? How many physical résumes have you given out?

“As the physical and digital worlds collide, marketers have been given the opportunity to engage with and reward their brand's biggest fans."

Luxury brands in particular trend toward projects playing up the design and digital innovations of the space, while smaller brands tend to focus on giving their customers real-world value, according to Robie.

“One great example I’ve seen is Budweiser, who released the Budverse Legends Collection​ with a social good aspect in addition to exclusive perks like merch or even a chance to meet Dwayne Wade."

Hennessy, meanwhile, has used NFTs completely differently to suit its branding and image.

"Hennessy dropped an exclusive collection​ this year that represented ownership of ultra-rare, limited edition bottles of Hennessy 8. The NFT serves as verification of ownership and authenticity, and you can even have the actual bottle delivered upon request.”

‘Even in their infancy, NFTs are already changing the game for marketers’

So what’s the point of NFTs and why should brands consider them?

It’s no secret that the market is as competitive as ever, and brands need to find new, creative and impactful solutions to really resonate with consumers.

“NFTs provide brands with another tactic to engage with customers and develop a relationship beyond a transaction. They provide an opportunity to build a tight-knit community of like-minded people and loyal brand advocates. NFTs can be a revenue stream, or they can simply be a way for brands to provide consumers with a digital membership asset.

“Creating a community around NFT holders that know they will receive unique or exclusive engagements as part of their benefits helps build a relationship that they not only want to be a part of, but that they look forward to."

For example, Myntr recently formed a partnership with Toronto-based cake and snack company SnackConscious to launch the TasteMakers Membership​ : offering members perks such as early access to new flavors, limited edition merch drops and product discounts.

“When you look at NFTs merely 12-15 months ago, a brand might try to create a collection simply as a revenue stream, and if it fails then so be it," ​said Robie.

"Fast forward several months later and you can find examples of brands across a variety of industries, food and beverage included, that are looking beyond novelty and are adding tangible, real-world benefits to consumers who hold them. That’s a drastic change in a very short period of time, and there is so much more to explore.

"And because NFTs can be any sort of digital medium, the possibilities are endless when deciding exactly what you want your membership or loyalty asset to be, whether it be an iconic moment in time, a custom graphic, or a personal audio message from a celebrity.”

If you’re good at marketing, you’ll be good at NFTs…

So what makes a good NFT collection?

At the end of the day, the answer is surprisingly simple and not so different to classic marketing techniques.

It all comes down to being authentic,"​ says Robie. "Every brand can utilize NFTs to provide varying levels of value to their consumers, but the design, the rewards and ease of use must all be in line with the brand's values.

"That’s why luxury brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci are able to create entirely different projects from something like the Nike + RTFKT Studios CryptoKicks collection. They can play with more expensive and innovative projects because they’re known for taking big swings.

"But not every brand is Nike or Gucci. For brands that don’t play with the same marketing budget, they can still focus on what they know their consumer loves: them. Creating a more personal relationship with your consumer will never go out of style, and is extremely valuable for any brand no matter the size. Even at the base level of customer interaction, membership and loyalty programs have existed for years. Now, through NFTs, marketers are able to enhance their brand value and engage with brand communities unlike ever before.”  

Should small brands get into the big world of NFTs?

So far, NFTs have largely remained the domain of big companies with the time and resources to put into the technology.

We’ve traditionally seen NFT collection launches from big brands with big marketing budgets who can afford to try something different with no expectations,”​ says Robie.

But he sees the market changing.

“You can likely find multiple new NFT collections being released every week now as brands look to be at the forefront of the technology curve. When you look at the current NFT landscape, you realize that the barrier to entry may be steep; not necessarily from a monetary standpoint, but from simply not having the resources or knowledge to effectively strategize, create, mint, and distribute an NFT collection.”

The real barrier to adoption, he explains, is that small brands remain intimidated by NFTs and lack the resources, understanding and motivation to explore the idea. But he believes that NFTs can and will have a place in helping brands of all sizes.

“As a company, we’ve likened NFTs to the early days of eCommerce adoption,”​ he says.

“While several big brands may have made the jump to add eCommerce to their overall strategy, some SMBs were hesitant to join the fold simply because they didn’t understand the benefit of the technology or they didn’t have the means to advance a proper strategy effectively.”

As an NFT agency, Myntr’s aim is to lower that barrier to entry: so they can enter the space ‘easily, effectively, and with purpose’.

"The barrier to entry not only from a brand perspective but a consumer perspective has also become much lower. It’s become so much easier for the average consumer to participate in the space, and will only become even easier over time. Brands that choose to embrace this digital expansion will be better off for it in the future, as those brands that adopted eCommerce early on benefitted." 

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