Jeff Donnelley is the CEO of MegaFansa global, mobile esports platform that uses blockchain, crypto and NFTs in a play-to-earn format.
Early August, TechCrunch reported that Starbucks announced it would be throwing its hat into the Web3 ring in the form of coffee-themed non-fungible tokens (NFTs), intended to act as both digital collectibles and ways to receive special benefits.
This isn’t Starbucks’ first time leading the way; they were also one of the first companies to use a digital wallet and mobile ordering, and they have been hugely successful with both. Continuing to build and innovate on their current rewards program with NFTs was the logical next step. In fact, several big companies are using Web3 products like cryptocurrency and NFTs to boost their communities, and it’s very exciting for consumers.
Big brands are starting to dip their toes into the Web3 world, not only to innovate on the inside, but also to bring a whole new experience to their customers.
Innovation has begun
Entering the Web3 space may be new to companies like Starbucks, but innovators like Gary Vaynerchuk, president of VaynerX, have pushed the boundaries of Web3 from the start. Over the summer, Vaynerchuk hosted the inaugural Web3 Demo Day to showcase 45 presenters and more than 200 brands in the Web3 space. According to A37PMVaynerchuk confirmed the importance of Web3 development in his opening statement: “. . . the internet was complicated in 1995, and the blockchain, the consumer blockchain, will be complicated in 2022. That’s why we take education very seriously here.”
Educating consumers and supporting technicians during Web3’s infancy through any bumps in the road is critical. The Web3 community has already experienced exponential growth and will continue to grow in popularity as companies like Starbucks come on board, with others soon to follow. It’s only a matter of time before other big brands venture into the Web3 space and put their own spin on it.
We see companies using Web3 not only for rewards and benefits, but also in the supply chain, authentication, selling digital products and even within the non-profit space to monitor and manage ongoing efforts. There is no shortage of ways to innovate, and I think in the next three to five years we will see some really great ideas and use cases, not to mention all the support companies and products that will emerge to to support these new innovations .
The new frontier in rewards
Web3 is the next frontier for both gaming and business. Web3 products such as NFTs are an obvious way for companies to promote, reward and track their customers’ purchases, using the transparency of an open ledger system such as blockchain. There are so many mutual benefits between consumers and providers that can be taken advantage of that I don’t think it’s really a matter of “if” this will work, but rather when and how quickly it will be adopted globally.
The most interesting aspect of this incentive is that it is a reward that is not tied to the company. Typically, loyalty programs and rewards are kept within a closed, internal ecosystem. For example, airline miles can only be used by the airline that issued them, or loyalty sponge cards at a smoothie shop can only be converted into a free smoothie with them. By venturing and offering Web3 incentives, companies give their customers assets that are not limited within their internal ecosystem.
This is exciting for consumers because as we have seen, owning an NFT or cryptocurrency can be a real opportunity to build wealth. The downside, though, is that typical loyalty programs are designed to incentivize consumers to buy more — opening rewards outside of an internal perks program will reduce those redemptions, but the brand cache should be worth it.
As the web3 space continues to grow, it will likely infiltrate every facet of our daily lives until we find ourselves moving seamlessly from Web3 to physical reality and back again. When leaders like Starbucks, Budweiser, and Pinkberry are the beginning of integrating Web3 into everyday life, they’ve set the bar high, and it seems the sky is the limit for Web3.