If the world becoming increasingly digital, consumer demands and needs are changing — and NFTs could be a big part of the future for brands looking to shake up their rewards programs, said Adam Brotman, co-CEO and co-founder of Forum3. ExamPaper.
“We hear from a lot of other brands, whether they have a loyalty program or not, that what all the big brands are struggling with right now is that the consumer is changing,” said Brotman, who is also the former chief digital officer of Starbucks, said. “It’s not just Gen Z or millennials, but consumers in general are hyper-digitalized and have a higher appreciation for digital goods.”
Earlier this month, Starbucks launched a blockchain-based loyalty program and NFT community called Starbucks Odyssey. The initiative was launched through a partnership with Forum3, which helped build out the coffee giant’s NFT project, Brotman said.
In September, Starbucks said it envisioned the program as a way for its most loyal customers to earn a broader, more diverse set of rewards than the perks they can get today, such as free drinks. Instead, Odyssey is introducing a new platform where customers can participate in interactive activities called “Journeys” that, when completed, allow members to earn travel stamps — which is Starbucks’ less technical terminology for NFTs.
Aside from Starbucks, the web3 customer loyalty-focused Forum3 has primarily worked with consumer brands, retailers (including restaurants), sports leagues and direct-to-consumer subscription companies, Brotman said.
“Odyssey is an extension of Starbucks’ loyalty program,” Brotman noted. “It’s an opportunity to innovate and expand loyalty.”
Separately, earlier this year, Nike launched an NFT and metaverse platform, .Swoosh, that allows shoe enthusiasts to trade and create digital “wearables and virtual sneakers.”
A loyalty program often focuses on giving customers something in exchange for their loyalty to a brand, Brotman said in a blog post. “What does the brand give in return? Discounts and digital convenience, such as remembering your favorite items, address and payment methods, suggesting items and having them pre-ordered.”
But what if these digital points, or royalty rewards, could? actually owned by customers? That’s where NFTs, or true digital property, come into play — providing a “much more compelling layer of loyalty,” Brotman said. It allows customers to receive points and digital collectibles they own that they can use in ways beyond what a typical rewards program allows today.