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AI Hype, NFTs, And The PLCC Dilemma

TokenTalk Staff



AI Hype, NFTs, And The PLCC Dilemma

Do retailers want shopper digital twins generated by AI from synthetic data? No.


This week’s retail news held a lot of good news / bad news combinations. It is a continuation of the way things have been going in the industry since at least the beginning of the year, part of what is making it so difficult to get a solid read on consumer spending and how that is translating to retail results.

One new wrinkle is external factors, like how governments are responding to things like continued inflation or rising retail theft. Throw in a throwback to NFT’s
and the metaverse, which are maybe not as done as I thought they were, and you have this week’s twist and turns in the on-going journey into retail’s future. Let’s dive in!

Retail Economic Indicators

The biggest news of the week was the US Consumer Price Index (CPI), which came in hotter than expected. March 2024 CPI increased 0.4% over February, which had also unexpectedly increased 0.4% over January. At the time, February was written off as a possible outlier. Now that doesn’t seem as likely. Year over year, CPI increased 3.5% in March. One data point may not make a trend, but two could.

There was some good news in there – the food index increased only 0.1% over February, which is a place where consumers tend to really notice inflation. It was really shelter and gas prices that contributed the most to the rise, accounting for over half of the monthly increase. Energy increased 2.1% for the 12 months ending in March, which was the first increase in the year over year figure since February 2023. That’s not good news or bad news, other than that energy prices can be more volatile than other prices. But this read came in before Middle East politics got even more contentious, and that means there is likely more bad news here to come for April.

Retail sales, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, grew “at a steady pace” in March. Retail sales were up 2.72% year over year (without any seasonal adjustment), and core retail, which excludes restaurants as well as autos and gasoline, was up 2.92%. As just noted, this was less than inflation, but not by too much. Across all of Q1, core retail sales were up 3.12%. The only thing to be careful of about this number, is that Easter fell in March this year, 9 days earlier than last year, so that “not seasonally adjusted” part actually is a big deal.

In the UK, the BRC-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor also found retail sales making steady progress. Year over year, retail sales were up 2.9%, and Q1 sales growth was overall up 2.1% year over year. Food sales did way better, growing 6.8% year over year in Q1. In comments on the results, the BRC pointed out that most of the growth came from Easter falling early, which means the results aren’t as great as they appear on the surface. Another case of what looks like good news, but maybe has some bad news embedded in the details.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia reported on US account-based credit card delinquency rates for Q4 2023, and found that they were the worst they’ve seen since 2012. 3.5% of card balances were at least 30 days past due at the end of December. The share of accounts making minimum payments rose 34 basis points to a series high. About 10% of borrowers have balances greater than $5,200. However, about 1/3 of card holders pay their balance every month. Consumer savings built up over the pandemic seems to be gone. When that happened sometime late last year, the assumption was that consumers would pull back. They did not. Now, credit card limits available to consumers, or at least the disposable income available to pay off credit cards (which could impact discretionary spending) may finally be a dwindling available resource. Have consumers finally hit their limit? That’s the question we seem to keep asking.

Retail Tech & Research Data

In the land of consumer surveys and tech research, BazaarVoice released the results of a survey of 8,000 shoppers, including 2,000 US shoppers. They broke out some US-specific results in their Shopper Preference Report, focused on Return to Office (RTO) and the differences in shopping behavior vs. work from home (WFH). Of the 64% of US consumers that have returned to office, more than half are spending more money in physical stores vs. on online platforms, which is a significant difference against the overall average. I don’t know if this is because RTO shoppers now have less time to shop and so are more laser-focused and convenience oriented, or if it’s the temptation of browsing during the lunch hour. It’s an interesting statistic given how difficult it has been to get consumers to RTO, and the subsequent impact this has had on downtown shopping locations in particular.

Adyen publishes an Adyen Index Australia, in cooperation with the Centre for Economic Business Research (CEBR). They found that 43% of Australian retailers reported falling victim to cyber attacks or data leaks in the last year, which was a 10% increase over 2022. Australian retailers lost an average of AU$2.2 million to fraud in 2023. Only 67% of retailers surveyed said they had effective fraud prevention systems in place. And shoppers notice: 63% of Australian consumers say they feel more unsafe shopping today vs. 10 years ago, due to the increased risk of payment fraud. However, as a reminder, does that mean they are changing their shopping behavior as a result? Most likely not.

In the US, the NRF has been very active in lobbying for a greater crackdown on retail crimes, most especially organized retail crime. In the UK, it looks like the government is starting to put together a response to rising retail theft, organized or not. Some of the things that have been authorized: a standalone offence for assaults on retail workers, expanding the use of electronic monitoring for “prolific” shoplifters, including the greater use of facial recognition, and easier reporting of crime in order to catch more offenders, including enabling small businesses to upload video and photos from their mobile phones. Beyond facial recognition, the expansion also includes plans to consider GPS-monitored curfews and exclusion zones and greater use of technology to make it harder to sell stolen goods online. If an industry can’t fix its problems, then government will – often not necessarily to the industry’s liking. One interesting additional part of the crackdown includes a mandate to design to reduce theft, which could potentially be seen as going after cashierless stores, for example.

AI & Retail

I only came across one article worth mentioning about AI this week, and I really debated whether I was going to mention it at all. But I think it’s important to call out hyperbole as much as positive developments or risks. So I won’t link to it (it just seems piling on, somehow), but I will say that while there are some amazing things that AI can do, whether optimization or GenAI, there are also a lot of things that are required around AI before what it can do becomes useful.

For example, will we see an AI agent that will shop for you this year? We might see some proofs of concept or some pilots, but I highly doubt there will be any AI agent out there in 2024 that will have crossed the chasm into mainstream adoption where you give it some preferences or a description of what you’re looking for, and a budget, and it will go out and buy for you. I can’t even get Amazon to deliver dog food at the frequency I need and the company has perfect visibility into my demand pattern not just over months, but over years. I’ve tried “find it for me” agents in the past and the result has always been “meh”. Part of it may be the thrill of the hunt and losing out on that part of the experience. Part of it may be FOMO – that’s great that you found this cool thing, but what did the selection pool look like? And part of it may be a lack of transparency around the results themselves – why did you pick this thing? Which part of my criteria were you using the most (and do I need to tweak it)? That’s a lot to overcome in the next 8 months.

Will we see personalized storefronts driven by AI in 2024? No. And not because AI couldn’t come up with what needs to be personalized, but because you have to significantly componentize and attribute your website and all of your products to be able to actually execute on a recommendation like that, whether made by AI or otherwise. It’s one thing to reorder your search results to present a list of products in an order that is “personalized”. It’s another thing entirely to rebuild the order or emphasis of product description, ratings or reviews, product images, similar products, etc. I know this is hard because you don’t really need AI to do it if you wanted to, but you do have to have an eCom platform capable of supporting that kind of on-the-fly rebuild, either as the shopper logs in or as they spend more time on the site. And even if that existed today, most retailers are on older eCom solutions precisely because upgrading can be hard.

Will personalization get better with AI? Probably. I still maintain there is a huge difference between “personalized” and “relevant”. We have not achieved parity between the two, even with AI. AI might be good at divining patterns of behavior that swing the needle over more to “relevant” by being able to better identify context and timing impacts. But are retailers going to create and track shopper digital twins? That sounds like a PII (personally identifiable information) and privacy nightmare.

No retailer wants to know absolutely everything about a consumer, because that means they have to protect all that data. What retailers really want is the minimum amount of personal data required to increase your spend with them. A laugh out loud moment from the article that inspired this whole section: “Retailers and CPG brands already are experts at leveraging shopper analytics and purchase data to present consumers with personalized offers and coupons.” Cry-laughing, seriously. Some of them are getting better, but I’ll just mention that within the same article, the author pointed out that we still live in a land where online ads continue to follow you around for things you already bought. Yes, experts indeed.

I will give one point of credit. AI to summarize reviews is indeed here. And what’s fascinating to me is to point this out to non-industry friends and family, and have them know exactly what I’m talking about (Amazon’s review summaries are great), and still miss the fine print underneath that says the summary was generated by AI. They use it, they like it, they don’t even know how it came to be – and it’s useful, so they don’t really care. Summarization of just about anything is an excellent use of GenAI, and I expect we’ll see more of that in 2024.

But how do you know when AI commentary is total hype? Try this quote: “Using predictive synthetic data, a retailer could predict that a shopper who buys Starbucks ground coffee at Safeway on a Tuesday is also likely to buy Kerrygold butter in the same shopping trip – and could, for example, send them a mobile coupon while they’re in the store. And since synthetic data is anonymized, they could do this without compromising consumer privacy.”

So much to unpack. If the shopper is already likely to buy the butter, why send a coupon for it, first of all? And AI platforms are talking about synthetic data because they’ve already run out of human-generated data of any quality to include in the creation of their LLM’s. Retailers should not be using synthetic data for anything except diluting their results. And why would you need to anonymize synthetic data? It’s made up. That’s the point. There better not be any PII in there because it is supposed to be generated data that only looks like real personal data. You use synthetic data (theoretically – no one has proven that this is not actually “the computer science equivalent of inbreeding”) to create models. You use your own real-world data to train the model. You should not be mixing the two.

Finally, there was this nugget: “Retailers, facing stiff competition and operating on razor-thin margins, have always been early adopters of futuristic technologies.” I completely and utterly disagree. Retail is famous for being laggard technology adopters. The last twenty-five years have been a ringside seat to consumers adopting technology at a far faster pace than retailers, and watching retailers figure out what to do about it. I still encounter retailers who don’t want to give their store associates mobile devices because they are “distracting” and “get in the way of selling”. It is those razor-thin margins that exactly create an anti-innovation environment. Retailers can’t afford to take big risks. They don’t have the margin to cover the nine misses that are required to get that one innovative hit. Some are fast followers. But when it comes to innovation, that’s as close as you’re going to get.

Retail Winners and Losers

Yes, I just said that in general, retailers are not innovative. The economics of the industry are stacked against them when it comes to taking big, innovative risks. However, not all retailers are laggards when it comes to adopting something new. One immediate example: Wow Bao. The Asian fast-casual restaurant has been experimenting with NFT and metaverse crossovers. The company has tied them into its “Hot Buns Club” rewards program. The metaverse experience is in Roblox, where Wow Bao is hosting a Dim Sum Palace, complete with a DJ and a dance floor, as well as exploratory areas within the building, including the Steam Lounge and a speakeasy. Hidden inside the club is a free avatar head accessory. If they connect their Roblox account to their loyalty account, they can claim the accessory as a digital item, along with getting entered to win free bao for a year and receiving a “CollectaBao” NFT. Starbucks also recently revamped their NFT program – basically switching platform providers – so I guess there is enough activity out there to keep a loyalty ecosystem alive, at least.

And, as another proof point around the dangers of generalization, probably the next biggest news of the week was the announcement of a new innovation collaboration (W23 Global Venture Fund) between retail giants Tesco, Ahold Delhaize, Woolworths Group, Empire Company Ltd (Sobeys), and Shoprite. This global effort will focus on start-ups and “scale-ups” that will enhance customer experiences in store and online. Tesco alone will contribute the equivalent of $25 million over five years. This news comes on the heels of announcements in 2023 that retailers like Walmart and Target were scaling back on innovation labs or their equivalent.

These kinds of investments come and go in a periodic cycle, and this venture fund announcement probably signals the kick-off to the next round of investing. The challenge with these funds is getting the innovation back into the enterprise. Setting up a separate entity helps keep “we already tried that” out of the house, but it also makes it harder to spur adoption back into the funding enterprise. $5 million per year is chump change to someone like Tesco, and yet even if you multiply by 5, that’s definitely not enough to fund the next AI unicorn or anything. We shall see!

Finally, we’ll wrap with a topic that I would argue is not innovative at all: private label credit cards (PLCC). However, I will be the first to admit that I don’t really understand them. My closest experience with PLCC was in the dimming days of Montgomery Wards. I was a consultant at the time, working a project for Wards. The company had just sold off its PLCC business, in what was possibly the last ditch effort to get enough cash to last through the transformation its leaders were trying to implement. But without that cash cow, there was nothing left – the real estate was gone, the brand cachet was gone, and now this last profit center was gone. The technology was so old they couldn’t even find spare parts for the hardware any longer, and rooms full of aging Cobol programmers declared that they didn’t see anything wrong with the spaghetti of tech that ran the business – and was incapable of running on anything else.

So, intrinsically I knew losing the PLCC business was bad, no matter what price they got for it, and I knew that likely the reason why it made money was because its consumers were poor and paid late often and racked up high interest rates. Fast forward to today, interest rates are high, but they’re high because core rates are high. PLCC makes money on fees – the kind of fees that President Biden has made a point of targeting. On May 14, late fees will be capped at $8 per month (compared to an average of $32 today).

This is expected to squeeze department stores, which rely heavily on PLCC. Specialty retailers will feel the pinch too, but it’s expected that department store will really take the hit, as their revenue is already under pressure from more careful consumer spending. Macy’s and Nordstrom’s average 3% of revenue from their PLCC programs. Kohl’s, Macy’s, and Target all reported falling credit card revenue for 2023/24. With the rise of Buy Now Pay Later, is this the end of PLCC? Certainly, any consumers looking to save money are going to eye the 29.33% average interest rate on a retailer issued card vs. the average of 20.75% across all US credit cards. It could be the future is more about paid loyalty programs – with Target launching a paid tier to its Circle program, it will be interesting to see if the Red Card credit card business goes to the wayside as a result.

The Bottom Line

The amount of oxygen being sucked up by AI hype is starting to make people dizzy, and that’s not a good thing for retailers trying to figure out where to invest. Beware people hawking shiny objects – from the early days of my time at RSR we believed in and emphasized pragmatism over hype. Retailers can’t afford to take big risks. Even Nike, perennially tagged as an innovator, is still eating crow over its decision to de-emphasize wholesale, and saw its sales tank as a result. Their apology tour continues.

That said, I’m always happy when something that seems like it could be pretty cool – like NFT-based loyalty programs that tie into virtual experiences – outlasts its oxygen deprivation phase. And I think the more that industry experts, yes like me too, help outline exactly where to look for benefits, the easier it will be to persuade companies to take more (more informed) risks.

It’s needed. Consumers aren’t going to wait around. They expect technology as part of their shopping experience, and they expect a seamless experience however they choose to engage. Now, if we could just figure out what those pesky consumers are going to do next, then we could be better prepared to support their expectations.

Wait, isn’t that what AI is supposed to do?

Note: this article has been updated to clarify the report published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia on US account-based credit card delinquency rates.


We are the editorial team of TokenTalk, where seriousness meets clarity in cryptocurrency analysis. With a robust team of finance and blockchain technology experts, we are dedicated to meticulously exploring complex crypto markets with detailed assessments and an unbiased approach. Our mission is to democratize access to knowledge of emerging financial technologies, ensuring they are understandable and accessible to all. In every article on TokenTalk, we strive to provide content that not only educates, but also empowers our readers, facilitating their integration into the financial digital age.

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NFT: The bubble has burst for now, but is there a future?

TokenTalk Staff



NFT: The bubble has burst for now, but is there a future?

Many strange things happened in the global economy during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but few as curious as the NFT boom of 2021.

Almost no one knew what a non-fungible token (NFT) was at the beginning of that year. In the end, more than 40 billion dollars (36.6 billion euros) were spent on digital assets and works of art recorded on blockchain. This has made the sector almost as valuable as the global art market itself.

If 2021 was the boom, then 2022 was the bust. In January 2022, the market reached its dizzying peak, but by September of that year, trading volumes had fallen by a massive 97 percent. The NFT crash was part of the broader destruction of the cryptocurrency sector, which saw a staggering $2 trillion in value lost.

Also read | Sam Bankman-Fried: Fraud Conviction Limits Stunning Drop for ‘Crypto King’

So are NFTs simply dead, or is there some kind of future for them?

In early November 2023, OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace, announced that it was laying off half of its workforce. Then there was a bizarre event at a promotional event in Hong Kong for the “Bored Ape Yacht Club”, one of the most well-known NFT collections. Dozens of people reported “severe eye burns” after participating in the event, which featured intense use of ultraviolet lighting.

None of this is good news, but there have also recently been signs of a very modest recovery in the affected sector, with trading volumes rising recently after falling steadily throughout 2023.

Cryptomania and ‘hip’ exclusivity

When the NFT boom took off in the summer of 2021, Andrea Barbon was one of many people intrigued by the innovation’s potential. He quickly created and sold his collection, a set of computer-generated fractal images.

“This venture awakened in me a deep curiosity and desire to delve deeper into NFTs,” Barbon, professor of finance at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland, told DW. “My fascination with the mix of art, technology and finance that NFTs represent motivated me to study them in detail, exploring their potential impact on various industries and their role in the future of digital property and creativity.”

From the beginning, many rejected NFTs. Bill Gates famously said that they were “100% based on the ‘greatest fool theory’” – the idea that it is possible to make money by buying overvalued and fundamentally worthless assets, as long as there is a “greater fool” who show up. and pay even more. “Obviously, expensive digital images of apes are going to improve the world immensely,” joked Gates, in an apparent reference to the Bored Ape collection.

Also read | Explained: Why some NFTs are so expensive

Still, NFTs took off. Perhaps the unique circumstances of the time, when the pandemic meant people around the world were spending an unusual amount of time online and at home, played a role. Barbon says the cryptocurrency boom, in full flow in 2021, has fueled enthusiasm for NFTs, while user-friendly platforms like OpenSea have made it very easy for people to buy and trade them.

Then there was the exclusivity factor, cultivated by celebrity purchases and the creation of NFT clubs. “The allure of NFTs has been further amplified by their novelty, the promise of high returns and their role as status symbols within the crypto community,” said Barbon. “This combination of technological innovation, market dynamics and cultural factors created a perfect storm that fueled the NFT boom.”

NFT: A bubble if there ever was one

For Barbon and his colleague Angelo Ranaldo of the Swiss Finance Institute, NFTs represented a fascinating field of study. As part of their academic research, they examined more than 15 million NFT transactions, worth around $18 billion, between January 2021 and September 2022. They concluded that the entire market represented a bubble.

“We have observed a pronounced trend toward bubble-like behavior in the NFT market,” Barbon said. “This was characterized by rapid price rises, often doubling within days or even hours, followed by sharp falls. These fluctuations offered significant returns to investors, but also posed substantial risks.”

Another thing they noticed was that some investors demonstrated an ability to consistently capitalize on market volatility, earning significant amounts of money, while others demonstrated more reckless behavior. “The market has seen inflated valuations, driven more by speculative fervor than underlying fundamentals,” he concluded.

Doubts will remain, but NFTs can endure

Some NFTs have seen impressive drops in value. The Bored Ape collection, for example, which became especially popular among celebrities, lost more than 90% of its value, amounting to several billion dollars. Singer Justin Bieber and Brazilian football player Neymar are among those who have spent around $1 million each on Bored Ape NFTs, only to see the value virtually disappear.

The fallout from the celebrity NFT craze continues to this day. This week, football player Cristiano Ronaldo was the target of a class-action lawsuit seeking at least $1 billion in damages for his role in promoting NFTs issued by cryptocurrency exchange Binance. As a result, there is a deep underlying skepticism about the market. But Barbon says it may still have a future, especially if it returns to its origins as a marketplace for digital artists.

Also read | Rise of ‘finfluencers’ sparks debate about influence and responsibility

“They are not just a technological novelty, but a revolutionary innovation with practical applications,” he said. “NFTs have revolutionized the digital art market, providing contemporary artists specializing in digital media with a platform to authenticate and monetize their creations.”

He also sees other possible uses for NFTs beyond the art world, in domains such as digital identity and virtual asset ownership. However, the bubble and the huge losses suffered mean there will be a big question mark over NFTs for a long time to come.


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Tech Entrepreneur Suggests Mainstream Companies May Have Adopted NFT Loyalty Programs Prematurely – Bitcoin News Interview

TokenTalk Staff



Tech Entrepreneur Suggests Mainstream Companies May Have Adopted NFT Loyalty Programs Prematurely – Bitcoin News Interview W5m dC1sb3lhbHR5LXByb2dyYW1zLXByZW1hdHVyZWx5L9IBAA?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen


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Esqueça BoredApes e CryptoPunks, os NFTs estão de volta às empresas

TokenTalk Staff



Esqueça BoredApes e CryptoPunks, os NFTs estão de volta às empresas

Há dois anos, os tokens não fungíveis estavam em alta, à medida que aficionados e especuladores de arte empurravam imagens baseadas em blockchain para US$ 27 bilhões em valor. Agora que o mercado quebrou, uma versão muito menos ambiciosa dos NFTs está encontrando um lar bem-vindo nos departamentos de marketing da América corporativa.

Por Maria Gracia Santillana LinaresEquipe da Forbes

Na primeira semana de outubro, a negociação de tokens não fungíveis (NFT) caiu para seu nível semanal mais baixo desde 2020, de acordo com dados do TheBlock, com apenas US$ 50 milhões em colecionáveis ​​digitais negociados em mercados secundários. Foi um mês sombrio para os NFTs, cujo volume de negócios despencou de um recorde de US$ 3,2 bilhões por semana em 2022, à medida que os preços caíram para frações de seus máximos do boom criptográfico.

A atividade morna ocorreu duas semanas antes da Nike planejar vender mais de 30.000 pares de seus populares tênis Dunks em uma coleção ligada a NFTs, com um toque cada vez mais popular que permitiu que compradores não-blockchain entrassem em ação. Ao contrário de praticamente todos os esforços anteriores, os compradores podiam pagar com cartão de crédito em vez de usar criptomoeda, adquirindo um par de Dunks de tamanho personalizado em uma das três combinações de cores: branco e azul, preto e roxo e preto e vermelho.

Apelar aos seus tradicionais compradores jovens deu certo para a Nike, com a venda rendendo US$ 7 milhões, ou uma média de cerca de US$ 230 por par, e cada proprietário do Dunk teria uma versão digital do tênis na blockchain Ethereum. É um modelo de lançamento que provou ser uma manobra de marketing útil – em agosto de 2022, a Nike ofereceu uma coleção de roupas de lazer de 10 peças por meio de sua linha CloneX NFT. A empresa de Beaverton, Oregon, famosa por seu longo relacionamento com Michael Jordan, vende roupas relacionadas ao NFT desde dezembro de 2022, quando lançou a coleção de tênis CryptoKicks iRL com cadarço automático. Peças daquela oferta inaugural que foram vendidas por cerca de US$ 900 agora pode render até US$ 3.000 em sites de revenda de tênis como EstoqueX.

A coleção Dunk Genesis “foi um grande sucesso”, diz Steven Vasilev, cofundador do estúdio NFT RTFKT (pronuncia-se “Artifact”), que foi comprado pela Nike em dezembro de 2021. “Mesmo que o mercado ainda esteja em baixa, nossos produtos são ainda trazendo novas pessoas.

Os tokens não fungíveis são criados, comprados e vendidos em blockchains, como criptomoedas como bitcoin e éter. Mas embora os tokens de cada moeda sejam iguais, cada NFT é único e pode ser usado para recompensar os usuários com várias vantagens ou ser vinculado a objetos no mundo real. Eles também podem ser negociados em vários mercados secundários como o OpenSea.

O cenário do NFT mudou drasticamente nos dois anos desde que os tokens se tornaram parte da arte e da cultura pop convencionais. Há pouco mais de um ano, CryptoPunks, uma coleção de milhares de fotos pixeladas de cabeças e os símios de desenhos animados do Bored Ape Yacht Club, conquistaram preços multimilionários em leilão. Agora, os mais caros raramente são negociados por mais de US$ 100.000. NFTs vendidos por mais de US$ 10 milhões desapareceram no ano passado e empresas nascidas de coleções de NFT, como Rektguy e Yuga Labs, fornecedora de Bored Apes, estão lutando para desviar seus modelos de negócios de pagamentos de royalties gerado pelas vendas secundárias. O mercado geral encolheu para US$ 9,5 bilhões em receita no ano passado, de US$ 26,7 bilhões em 2022, de acordo com CriptoSlam. Emergindo do rescaldo da mania dos NFT estão grandes empresas que estão adotando os tokens como um dispositivo de marketing de ponta, ajudando-os a se aproximar dos clientes existentes e atrair novos.

Para onde NFTs

As vendas de tokens não fungíveis atingiram o pico em 2022, quando as imagens digitais inscritas em blockchains estavam no centro da cultura pop. Dois anos depois, as vendas estão definhando.

“Onde a Nike atende atletas, nós atendemos criadores”, diz Vasilev, que é membro da Forbes 2023 30 Menos de 30 Varejo e Comércio Eletrônico lista. “Não gostamos da palavra NFT”, acrescenta, “acreditamos que é muito técnico e confunde muitos clientes. Por isso, preferimos chamá-los de ‘colecionáveis ​​digitais’.”

Sempresas mais próximas como A Nike está na vanguarda da segunda vinda dos NFTs, mas não está sozinha.

Embora ainda esteja muito longe de obter receitas ou lucros significativos, a América Corporativa está encontrando maneiras úteis de empregar os tokens exclusivos baseados em blockchain em seus arsenais de marketing.

Algumas empresas como a Nike estão incorporando NFTs em seus produtos, trazendo imagens virtuais para a realidade física. A gigante dos cartões de crédito Mastercard, por exemplo, fez parceria com o crypto neobank Hi para permitir que os usuários de NFT exibissem seus próprios NFTs nos cartões plásticos de suas carteiras.

Os designs dos cartões e os cartões que você usa para pagamento refletem quem você é”, diz Christian Rau, chefe das operações de criptografia e fintech da Mastercard na Europa quando a parceria foi lançada em outubro de 2022. A arte digital em um cartão de crédito “basicamente permite que os consumidores exibir uma manifestação física de um NFT com o qual eles realmente se importam.”

Além da marca física, outros incluíram elementos blockchain nas estratégias de marketing existentes. A Coca-Cola adicionou NFTs à sua campanha publicitária global Masterpiece em junho, na qual as icônicas garrafas vermelhas e pretas da empresa foram distribuídas por versões animadas de obras de arte conhecidas como “The Scream” de Edvard Munch e “Bedroom in” de Vincent Van Gogh. Arles.” Em agosto, a empresa lançou uma série de obras de arte digitais no blockchain Base da Coinbase que colocavam combinações de pinturas famosas e obras contemporâneas em suas garrafas de refrigerante em uma série de imagens digitais vinculadas a NFTs. Coca-Cola’s derrubar arrecadou US$ 543.000 com a venda de 80.000 tokens.

A tática virtual explora os mercados existentes de superfãs da Coca-Cola e colecionadores de embalagens vintage, alguns dos quais estão dispostos a gastar até US$ 4.000 em leilão para as garrafas mais raras. Os NFTs da Coca-Cola, em comparação, permitiram aos colecionadores a chance de comprar US$ 25 em éter para coletar na época da venda de agosto de 2023.

Existem também empresas que estão usando NFTs para dar nova vida aos seus programas de fidelidade. A Starbucks, por exemplo, lançou uma versão de teste de seu programa de fidelidade Odyssey em dezembro de 2022, dando a um grupo seleto de usuários acesso a jogos online e missões que geram recompensas NFT. Os tokens oferecem aos titulares programas exclusivos, incluindo bônus de estrelas Starbucks (pontos de fidelidade da empresa), acesso a bebidas especiais, aulas on-line de preparação de coquetéis e férias.

As recompensas já estão chegando para os membros existentes do Odyssey. Os 20 maiores detentores de pontos em janeiro de 2024 serão convidados a fazer uma viagem com todas as despesas pagas à Costa Rica, onde a Starbucks possui sua única fazenda de café, de acordo com uma postagem no X do executivo da Odyssey Steve Kaczynski.

A Lufthansa da Alemanha adotou uma abordagem semelhante em relação à fidelidade, entregando NFTs comemorativos para determinadas viagens ou destinos aos usuários da plataforma Uptrip da companhia aérea, agindo como selos digitais para as carteiras digitais dos passageiros. O serviço cria NFTs no blockchain Polygon que podem ser resgatado para WiFi gratuito durante o voo, acesso a salas VIP de aeroportos e milhas aéreas.

Tecnicamente, este tipo de programa de fidelidade não precisa depender da tecnologia blockchain para funcionar, mas usá-la poderia tornar o processo mais barato, além de dar aos clientes da Lufthansa a impressão de que a empresa adota a tecnologia mais recente. “As empresas podem ter muitas ferramentas de um programa de fidelidade sem precisar construir tanta infraestrutura”, diz Paul Brody, líder global de blockchain da consultoria Ernst & Young.

Como o objetivo desses itens colecionáveis ​​é, em grande parte, manter os usuários fiéis à empresa emissora, a negociação é desencorajada, então você não verá muitos desses NFTs acumulando volume em mercados como OpenSea e Blur.

Ainda assim, diz Brody, “pode acabar sendo uma ótima publicidade… Sua carteira blockchain vai se tornar um pouco como sua estante de troféus pública”.

O maior obstáculo que as empresas podem enfrentar no marketing – e na expansão de seus mercados – usando NFTs pode vir da natureza dos ativos criptográficos. Obter NFTs geralmente inclui adicionar extensões de navegador, obter uma carteira criptografada, criar senhas longas e fazer transações em moedas digitais como o éter, o que pode ser assustador para os não iniciados.

Essa é parte da razão pela qual Vasilev, da Nike, evita o termo NFT. É também por isso que a RTFKT adicionou uma opção para comprar primeiro o tênis físico (sem o NFT) usando opções tradicionais de pagamento com cartão de crédito em vez de criptografia. Fazer isso no lançamento do Dunk Genesis trouxe novos clientes, diz Vasilev, já que 93% dos compradores que compraram os tênis físicos antes dos NFTs eram clientes pela primeira vez dos produtos RTFKT. “Achamos que esta é uma excelente maneira de integrar novas pessoas”, acrescenta.

Sempresas mais próximas podem representam o casamento perfeito entre a tecnologia NFT e o marketing de marca, especialmente porque as principais marcas já cultivam jovens compradores por meio de um mercado ativo de colecionáveis. Seguindo a Nike, Adidas e Puma estão lançando suas próprias coleções compatíveis com blockchain.

A gigante alemã de roupas esportivas Adidas adotou uma abordagem combinada física e digital para o uso de NFTs. Em agosto, a empresa fez parceria com a marca japonesa de streetwear BAPE para lançar uma edição limitada de 100 pares de tênis brancos virtuais que poderiam ser usados ​​para comprar o equivalente físico. Em parceria com a MoonPay, plataforma de pagamento criptografado, os usuários dão lances nos 100 itens por 72 horas, antes de retirar seu par digital. Cada NFT era negociável, mas também poderia ser trocado por tênis Forum Low 84 da Adidas em um padrão de cor Triple White exclusivo para titulares dispostos a queimar ou destruir o NFT. O lance mais alto por um único par de tênis foi de quase US$ 4 mil, de acordo com Eterscan.

A maior parte dos NFT da Adidas explorações permaneceram dentro das paredes virtuais do metaverso, liberando produtos em plataformas de jogos e participando de Semana de Moda do Metaverso em 2023.

A Puma adaptou estratégias utilizadas por ambos os seus rivais. Depois de experimentar tênis feitos sob encomenda para versões físicas de uma coleção NFT lançada no início de 2022, ela se concentrou na primeira venda de tokens que poderiam ser trocados por uma versão de edições limitadas de um tênis de corrida existente chamado Fast-RB. Por enquanto, porém, ela está se concentrando no uso do Puma Pass, um token que dá aos usuários acesso antecipado a mais coleções NFT e em wearables digitais para serem usados ​​em plataformas de jogos.

“Apenas criar uma coleção de fotos de perfil ou um programa de fidelidade já é uma tarefa fácil”, diz Ivan Dashkov, chefe de tecnologias emergentes da Puma, que vê a criatividade como a chave para o sucesso do blockchain. “Você realmente precisa pensar em maneiras novas e inovadoras de usar [blockchain] tecnologia para alcançar, para interagir com seu cliente.

O uso de NFTs como ferramenta de marketing ainda está engatinhando. Quase nenhum programa de marketing corporativo existente tomou medidas para implementar programas NFT permanentes, diz Brody.

A ênfase está na experimentação e no uso do consumidor e, à medida que a negociação em mercados outrora escaldantes como o OpenSea continua a definhar, ninguém está falando sobre o mercado secundário para NFTs.

Diz Brody: “Estamos caminhando para um futuro que será cada vez mais NFTs como lembranças e troféus públicos, e não como ativos financeiros transferíveis”.


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