The holidays have always been a good barometer of pop culture, consumer trends, and marketing innovation. With holiday sales accounting for upwards of 35% or more of retail sales, it’s no surprise that brands look to put their best foot forward this time of year.
So for those looking to gauge the pulse of blockchain technologies collectively known as Web3, this is a good time to take stock.
Executive summary: mainstream brands are embracing crypto, NFTs and the metaverse for what they are: modern ways to connect with a new generation of customers, deepen engagement with brand loyalists, and ultimately create new revenue streams.
Consider a few notable examples:
This Thanksgiving – the unofficial kickoff of the Christmas selling season – we’ll once again see Macy’s show off its prowess for tapping into pop culture at its iconic parade.
Look up on parade day and you’ll see the Cool Cats balloon making its debut. Trying to prove that cats do indeed have nine lives, the storied project which premiered in 2021 but fell on hard times, is using the big stage as part of its “rebirth.” In the process, millions of viewers worldwide will be reminded that – yes – NFTs can be brands unto themselves capable of capturing the imagination of all ages. And coming back for a second year, the Macy’s Virtual Parade – a very cool way to experience the event, and NFT collections.
Further evidence of a category marching forward will be found at Walmart, where shoppers will have the opportunity to buy Pudgy Penguin “phygitals” – that is, a plush physical toy and NFT that provides access to the digital/social “Pudgy World.”
That Walmart – the world’s largest company by revenue and where Main Street shops – is telling. For one, as anyone who’s worked with Walmart knows, they rarely stock products that don’t have high velocity potential. But perhaps more importantly, the message is clear: it’s not that it’s an NFT that’s included in the box … it’s that it’s a digital experience that is included – and there is value in that.
Marketing lesson learned: mainstream consumers buy value and experience. The underlying technology is just that: underlying.
And last in our anthropomorphic parade is the Build-A-Bear-Workshop – which is also embracing phygitalism (that a word?), according to Forbes. The brand, which has stores in 19 countries, will be “embracing the Metaverse through UGC gaming … combining the tangible charm of physical stuffed animals with the interactive wonders of the digital world.”
Whether cats, penguins or bears, the characters that embody the brands … and the brands that embody the culture will be on display reminding us all to get beyond technology’s labels and embrace the opportunities and potential to lead not fellow, and drive growth in the process.
Holiday movies are yet another staple of the season. So it’s notable that Regal Theaters has announced that it will be partnering with digital payment network Flex to begin accepting crypto to purchase tickets and concessions at its 500 locations across the U.S. They follow AMC Theaters which began accepting crypto in 2021.
According to the Global Cinema Advertising Association, about 50% of moviegoers are in the 14-34 age cohort. These digitally native, endlessly curious consumers, look to engage brands in new and fulfilling ways. They don’t necessarily call it “web3.” They call it “what’s now.”
Look no further than Mattel Creations for your Barbie NFTs. The phenomenal success of Barbie, the movie, this summer demonstrated just how influential brands like this can be on shaping cultural narrative and engagement. So it’s a pretty good bet that there will be digital Barbies being gifted, displayed, and coming to a social post near you in the weeks ahead.
And what might you unwrap this holiday season, or find in a stocking that has the open Internet sewn in?
That new Diesel Vert watch you’ve just received includes an A:VERT NFT which lets you scan a QR code on the product to participate in an Immersive Virtual Performance it calls a Metamorph Experience. Produced in collaboration with Fossil Group, it’s an interesting example of ways in which brands can take a timeless product and introduce it to a new generation of consumers.
Just get a gift card in your stocking? Well, the person who gave it to you may have used his, her or their crypto using Bitrefill – a nifty service that allows users to buy digital gift cards (and more) using their Bitcoin, Ehtereum, USDC or many other cryptocurrencies. The whole process is easy and fast.
And that vintage print shirt you just received may have been discovered at the Lacoste Virtual Store. In 2022, they launched the first such store that helped visitors to discover the brand’s collection, as well as a VIP room only accessible to those who held its UNDW3 NFTs.
There’s a lot to unwrap here
The nonbelievers among us would respond that the sample size of Web3 activations this holiday season is relatively small in the grand scheme of things – but that misses the point.
Sure, “traditional consumer brands” are still sizing up their opportunity and building their playbooks. But here are the facts:
- There are more than 600 million wallets (and growing) on the largest blockchains – representing billions in buying power.
- 45+ million are now active with NFTs at any given time, representing ~$169 billion in buying power.
- 85% of merchants see crypto payments as a way to reach new customers [Source: Deloitte].
- 82% of Fortune 500 businesses plan to explore Web3 in 2023 [Source: PwC].
- 50% of Fortune 100 companies are already in Web3 [Source: Coinbase].
So it’s easy to see how brands like Macy’s, Walmart, Regal and Diesel represent the proverbial “tip of the arrow.” They’re getting ahead of the curve, seizing early mover advantage, and embracing the opportunity to connect with a new generation of customers.
Start with the gift of insight
As we explain in our eBook, How to Build Your Web3 Business Case: A 10-Step Approach for Marketers, a good place to start in seizing this opportunity is to get a sense of how many of your existing customers and known prospects have digital wallets, along with the profiles, interests and buying power of those visitors. Absolute Labs now makes it incredibly easy to do just that.
Then engage them by triggering an invitation to join your community, receive a special offer, claim a free NFT or other incentive. In so doing, you can gain permission to connect their wallet address to the profile info in your existing CRM and/or the Absolute WRM™ platform. Over time, this field may become the most important data in your database.
> Want to see Absolute WRM in action. Request a demo!
Merry and bright
This holiday season, let’s celebrate the incredible advances that are being made in creating decentralized communities, enhancing trust and transparency throughout the marketing ecosystem, and creating new and wonderful experiences that bond people together.
Those bells you hear in the night just might be the sound ushering in a new era in marketing.
Images are from each of the respective brands’ websites.