Brands and creators are always testing new ways to interact with audiences—via rewards, communities, and loyalty programs. Usually through the lens of ROI: “how much value can we extract from fans?”It’s an outdated model.
Here’s how NFTs offer a more holistic approach:
Rule #1: the incentives must be aligned. That means tangible benefits for communities. No cash grabs, no leeching—brands get insights + loyalty, but customers get increased power + rewards. Those that nail it will kickstart a retention + innovation flywheel.
NFTs can accomplish this in ways that old systems cannot, creating entire economies in the process. Imagining NFTs as simply “unlocking access” or incentivizing customers to purchase is first-inning thinking. We’re going to walk through some of their under-considered utility.
R&D: Brands exchange NFTs for insights on product dev: pain points, marketing claims, flavors, materials, and more. Participants receive NFTs granting early access to product releases and potential profit sharing. Brands easily track and maintain these key relationships.
Education and CX: Upon demonstrating exceptional knowledge of a brand’s product, you can receive NFTs in exchange for onboarding newbies into the community, or providing customer support. This can be exponentially more impactful than a brand employee doing the same.
Content Submission: Want to collect an NFT? Submit content in exchange. Not only could you receive a NFT that represents your contribution, but rights can be programmed into the contract so that the use of your content in advertising could yield a % of future profits to you.
Leaderboards: Keeping score of top contributors could lead to brand community managers dropping surprise rewards, tickets, and access to fans who show up and bring the most value to communities. This can catalyze increased attendance and engagement within the group.
Voting + Governance: Fans deserve more than just “input” on key decisions like product roadmaps or distribution strategy—let them actually vote.
Make it gated to only holders of specific NFTs, or open it up and reward any participant with a proof of participation trophy.
Bounties: Brands and creators can drop unique quests within communities, rewarding completion with NFTs. This could be anything from completing a questionnaire to referring members into the community, to attending events. Bounties can be highly competitive, or open wide.
Lotteries: Raffling off NFTs means that members have an opportunity to receive rewards without the hurdle of participating regularly. It lowers the barrier to joining communities for those who are curious, but not quite committed to engaging. Who doesn’t love a good raffle?
Customer Cohorts: Imagine you received an NFT for being one of the first Air Jordan customers, and how valuable that might be today. How the brand might reward you years later with special access or product. Cohort NFTs are a way of certifying engagement within groups.
Airdrops: are more powerful than any SMS marketing text, getting a surprise NFT in your wallet is sure to pique any customer’s curiosity. Better still, it can unlock real utility, like pre-order access. Whatever you do, don’t airdrop customers with a tacky discount code. :)
Community Coins: Offering communities their own currency to transact with creates financial skin in the game. Helpful to a newbie in the chat? A mod might gift you 500 coins. Want a private call with the community creator? 5000 coins. Coins unlock another layer of economy.
Traceability: Certain IRL collectibles come with certification that goods are indeed authentic. NFTs prove that not only is your collectible legitimate, but your behavior that unlocked it is traceable and unique. NFTs center community participation more than ever.
Whatever the path forward, NFTs promise a displacement of the old “top down” way of doing business. The elevation of customers into participants. A more equitable, transparent ecosystem, with real rewards and agency for communities that deserve it.Thanks for reading.
About Chris Cantino
Chris Cantino is an entrepreneur and Partner at Color Capital, investing across consumer, crypto, and commerce.