In 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 both as digital collectibles and ways to receive special perks.
This is not the first time Starbucks has been ahead of the curve; they were also one of the first companies to employ 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 major companies are using Web3 products like cryptocurrency and NFTs to incentivize their communities, and it’s very exciting to consumers.
Big brands are starting to dip their toes into the Web3 world, not only to innovate within but also to provide their customers with a brand-new experience.
Innovation Has Begun
Entering the Web3 space may be new for companies like Starbucks, but innovators like Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman of VaynerX, have been pushing the boundaries of Web3 from its inception. Over the summer, Vaynerchuk hosted the inaugural Web3 Demo Day to highlight 45 presenters and more than 200 brands in the Web3 space. According to One37PM, in his opening statement, Vaynerchuk affirmed the importance of Web3 development: “. . . the internet was complicated in 1995, and the blockchain, the consumer blockchain, is complicated in 2022. And so, we take education extremely seriously here.”
Educating consumers and supporting engineers during the infancy of Web3, 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 get on board, with others soon to follow. It’s only a matter of time until other major brands venture into the Web3 space and put their own spin on things.
We’re seeing businesses use Web3 not just for rewards and perks, but also in supply chain, authentication, digital products sales and even within the non-profit space to track and manage ongoing efforts. There is no shortage of ways to innovate, and I believe we’ll see some really amazing ideas and use cases in the next three to five years, not to mention all of the ancillary businesses and products that will come about to support these new innovations.
The New Frontier In Rewards
Web3 is the next frontier for gaming and businesses alike. 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 to be taken advantage of that I believe it’s not really a matter of “if” this will work, but rather when and how fast it will be adopted globally.
The most interesting aspect of this method of incentive is that it’s a reward not tied to the business. 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 punch cards at a smoothie shop can only translate to a free smoothie with them. By venturing out and offering Web3 incentives, companies are giving their customers assets that aren’t limited within their internal ecosystem.
This is exciting for consumers, because as we’ve seen, owning an NFT or cryptocurrency can be a real wealth-building opportunity. The downside, however, is that typical loyalty programs are designed to get consumers to purchase more—opening up rewards outside of an internal perks program will reduce those redemptions, but the brand cache should be well 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. If leaders like Starbucks, Budweiser and Pinkberry are the onset of integrating Web3 into everyday life, they’ve set the bar high, and it looks as though the sky’s the limit for Web3.