There’s a lot of hype about every part of the NFT world, and their use as the next big thing in marketing is part of it.
Brands ranging from McDonald’s to Hermès are jumping into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and the fledgling virtual reality words of the metaverse with both feet — but it isn’t always clear where they’re landing.
“By putting something out there that you believe is the right way to engage and excite customers, you can incorporate the feedback you get into a virtuous learning cycle,” he said.
For its part, Wolf’s company has embraced the learning cycle enthusiastically. The provider already enables solutions for crypto, buy now, pay later (BNPL), digital wallets and third-party local currencies. It’s all part of an effort to address what Wolf called the “most pressing challenge of the space” — how to connect everyday consumers and brands in ways that deliver tangible benefits to both of them.
The “common denominator among these alternative payment methods or asset classes is that they provide a very real opportunity for retailers to engage with the customers in new ways,” Wolf said. “And, crucially I think, on their terms. There is a real opportunity to shape the payment experience.”
Fitting NFTs into the equation means looking beyond the metaverse, he said, to find ways digital art and collectables can enhance a physical product’s value.
Blackhawk Network just did that with AMC Theatres, offering NFTs by an artist with an established name in crypto collectibles to the first 100 buyers of a $50 card on its Giftcards.com site.
Dipping Kryptoz in
For the promotion, the two companies connected with NFT and blockchain wallet firm Bitski and artist Jon Shelley, known for his Kryptoz avatars in the NFT collectibles world. While it was not intended to have a real financial impact, it had one result that struck home: 90% of the buyers hadn’t made a purchase from Blackhawk before.
“It attracted not just higher spend, but also new customers,” Wolf said. “One out of 10 customers were people that we recognize as monthly active users — the rest of them were new to us. It certainly highlighted the potential.”
It also showed both AMC and Blackhawk just how user-friendly the promotional use of NFTs can be, whether that’s in eCommerce, at the physical point of sale or through proprietary or third-party channels.
“And really to assuage the concern that engaging in this space has to come at a cost of the customer experience, because it doesn’t,” he added. “There is an incredible amount of innovation in this space; an incredible amount of participation and enthusiasm” that traditional brands can access.
Wolf said as a payment network, Blackhawk can connect consumers and traditional commerce to crypto and NFTs. At the same time, he warned, using them for their own sake won’t cut it for very long in a field “susceptible to fading hype.”
Retailers that embrace NFTs or any other crypto asset, he said, have an opportunity to move beyond the hype cycle and play a role in defining how they’ll be used at the point of sale as mainstream adoption grows. In the case of the NFT promotion, those gift cards have a dollar value, a collectible value, the ability to be used in metaverse properties and unlockable discounts for future purchases on Giftcards.com.
“The point is that by incorporating crypto and NFTs in a sensible manner, we can put the purely speculative aspects of the space aside and offer real value to real people engaging with real brands,” Wolf said.