Any tech geek will tell you Web3 is a revolution. But with brands like Coca-Cola, Gucci, and even Burger King minting their own non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the world of Web3 is becoming more mainstream with each passing minute.
The concept really took off when Facebook launched Meta — a rebrand received with awe, skepticism, and some seriously cringey avatars. Direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands rushed in with custom avatar skins, digital wearables, and real-life perks to drive increased loyalty with fans and customers.
But recently, we’ve seen a notable correction in the Web3 market. The NFT market in particular has been put through the wringer with OpenSea, one of the largest NFT marketplaces, seeing a 99% drop in trading volumes since May 1, 2022.
So what does this mean for growing DTC brands?
Well, the good news is, many experts remain optimistic about Web3. According to a recent Vantage report, the Web3 blockchain market was valued at $2.9 billion in 2021 and is forecasted to grow up to $23.3 billion by 2028. Even certain government agencies are initiating digitization programs to promote the responsible development of Web3 tech.
Whether you’re a new or experienced merchant, you might still see the potential of Web3 as a meaningful way to scale your brand. After all, Web3 completely changes the way brands can approach marketing — customizing the user experience like never before while gaining deeper insights into customer behavior.
So, yes. Even after the recent NFT crash, Web3 remains a potential game changer. And you don’t have to look far to find brands that are doing it right.
The scoop on winning with Web3
- What the heck is Web3? The basics behind the buzz
- How are some of the best DTC brands capitalizing on Web3?
- What will the Web3 future look like for your brand?
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What the heck is Web3? The basics behind the buzz:
By now, we’ve all heard of Web3. But how many of us could actually explain it?
So what exactly is Web3?
Web3 is a new iteration of the world wide web that aims to put the power back into users’ hands through the use of blockchain technology.
To better understand this shift, here’s a quick refresher on the genesis of Web3:
- Web 1.0 is when the internet first started. It was the early age of passively looking up a word or reading simple site pages. The user’s interaction was limited. If you’ve ever accidentally clicked on a link and seen a webpage that looked about 100 years old with outdated graphics, fonts, and images, you’re probably looking at a page that hasn’t been updated since Web1.
- Web 2.0 kickstarted the era of online interaction. It gave users access to create and post their own content online. Messaging and social media exploded, but so did targeted ads as the internet learned from users, and then used and sold their information.
- Web 3.0 is the current revolution. Through decentralized data collection and blockchain technology, users get better privacy and a more immersive online experience.
Why the hype over Web3?
As we’ve established, in Web 1.0, the user was the consumer. Then, as data was mined and used for targeted ads in Web 2.0, the user became the product.
But in Web 3.0, the user is the owner. And that’s why everyone is so excited about it.
Web 3.0 runs on the idea of decentralization via the blockchain versus letting large corporations act as brokers of user data. In a conversation with CMSWire, Matt Biilmann, CEO of Netlify, laid out exactly what this could mean:
- Web developers, content creators, and brands will have ownership over their own data.
- Decentralized technology reduces the chances of a server crash, which also improves user experience and ensures data protection.
- Brands can offer more privacy and control to their customers.
Even with the recent market correction, Web 3.0 continues to grow and expand.
Today, it’s booming in the areas of art, gaming, and tech. Of course, it’s also rapidly changing the world of finance, with cryptocurrencies gaining significant traction since the launch of Bitcoin in 2008.
But for fast-growing DTC brands, accepting payment via cryptocurrency isn’t the only way to use Web3 to help scale your store.
How are some of the best DTC brands winning on Web3?
Over 500 companies are currently involved in building the metaverse.
Even decades-old brands like Gucci, Nike, Hyundai, Coca-Cola, and more have started breaking through the metaverse marketplace.
One of the most popular applications of Web3 is of course, NFTs, which are both digital assets and investments that can be traded via a blockchain. By connecting NFTs with real-world experiences like food, travel, and of course, shopping, brands can create an immersive experience unlike any other.
While some Web3 native brands like BoredApe and CryptoPunk have dwindled (or even faded away completely), many are keeping their eyes on the long game and continuing to win with Web3.
For example, clothing brand Coach gave NFT owners the option to cash in their digital assets for a physical Coach Rogue bag during its Give A Little Love holiday campaign. Shoppers weren’t just involved in Coach’s virtual Snow City game, they also had a real-world experience with the brand.
And that’s just one example. Let’s take a closer at some of the other DTC brands killing it with Web3.
Charles & Keith — cashing in with crypto
Charles & Keith is a Singapore-based footwear and accessories brand that jumped into the metaverse in March 2022 during the Metaverse Fashion Week.
Around 1,000 avatars who visited their virtual booth received a Koa bag and sandals as free digital wearables. From there, visitors had the option to proceed to the website where they could purchase the physical versions of the products. Guests who shared a screenshot of their avatars on social media also got a chance to win one of only 20 limited-edition micro Koa bags.
And that’s not all. Charles & Keith also introduced cryptocurrencies as a payment method on their website, making the checkout experience even more seamless for metaverse shoppers.
OffLimits Cereal Club — merging community with customization
The uber artistic DTC cereal brand OffLimits was one of Web3’s earliest e-commerce adopters.
OffLimits’ winning combination of creative vision and cutting-edge technology helped them launch a truly unconventional initiative: custom cereal boxes designed on the metaverse in collaboration with their NFT customers.
By submitting their custom-designed NFTs, customers contributed to the updated collage-based design of the virtual cereal box, which was then produced as a physical product and shipped directly to their homes.
If this example teaches us anything, it’s that for brands looking to build meaningful connections with customers, the metaverse offers a space for active collaboration and customization.
That’s important because customized products are the future.
In fact, a recent report by McKinsey found that 71% of consumers demand personalized products and experiences — but it’s notoriously difficult to do this both well and at scale. Brands driving personalization forward with Web3 technology will be better equipped to rise to the challenge.
Coca-Cola — breaking into DTC with a little help from Web3 gaming
With the budget to spare, Coca-Cola has had its fair share of wins and fails in the world of Web3. And its recently announced flavor — Zero Sugar Byte — is metaverse-inspired, metaverse-designed, and metaverse-consumable (and real-life consumable!).
The global powerhouse brand is very much in touch with the changing landscape, tapping into Web3 technology as a way to evolve from a retailer-centric model to a DTC approach.
Customers can immerse themselves in four different virtual worlds and games designed by Coca-Cola in the Metaverse (more specifically, and to the joy of 13-year-olds everywhere, in Fortnite ⚔️). Not only that, they can also purchase the limited edition cans online and scan the physical package to gain access to an augmented reality (AR) game.
Coca-Cola has found multiple innovative ways to bridge the virtual and physical worlds, giving its customers a unique brand experience. From here, the possibilities are limitless.
Of course, your brand’s consumers may not all be gamers. But with Web3 tech becoming more advanced by the minute, there are many ways to digitally create a space that appeals to your customers’ specific wants and needs.
Vans — capitalizing on digital (and physical) wearables
In a world where Zoomers are coming into purchasing power, great marketing needs to work harder than ever to appeal to this hard-to-please generation known for avoiding advertising like the plague.
The metaverse allows for the type of subtle brand placement Gen Z can get on board with while adding value and fun. And that’s where ‘Vans World’ on Roblox comes in. 🤖
The popular footwear brand created an interactive skatepark experience where fans could buy and wear NFT Vans inside the game. The result?
Aside from virtual sales, Vans customers who designed products online were also able to buy the physical shoes from their website, similar to what we saw with OffLimits Cereal. By testing out the products virtually, customers can then move to purchase the real product more confidently.
Poolsuite — winning with a VIP Web3 experience
Poolsuite, which was once a simple internet radio station, now calls itself “the most leisurely and illustrious brand of the internet’s new frontier.” Fancy, right?
Tapping into its highly exclusive brand vibe, Poolsuite launched its new NFT membership project — The Poolsuite Card in an attempt to make an “elegant Peach-Bellini-fuelled swan dive into the metaverse.” 🍹
Poolsuite’s NFT membership card comes with various tiers and perks, including curated NFT art, mixtapes, and exclusive virtual experiences like members-only website access, live events, and early access to online stores.
Poolsuite has used NFTs in one of the most unique ways we’ve seen to establish deep brand loyalty while creating a one-of-a-kind experience for members that have pledged themselves as “true patrons of the Poolsuite organization.”
Customers everywhere love exclusivity. This is why the tiered membership card is such a good move.
Add to that the exclusivity of gaining chic digital assets (in addition to its best-smelling sunscreen products), and more customers are sure to commit. 💍
What will the Web3 future look like for your DTC brand?
While it might all seem new and overwhelming, Web3 is also exciting. After all, who hasn’t dreamed up futuristic versions of the world where virtual connectivity, AI, and VR becomes the norm? (Looking at you, Spielberg.)
But growing brands should proceed with caution and a clear plan for how to monetize their Web3 endeavors.
Because while the buzz around Web3 continues to build — some 75% of B2C brands have expressed interest in joining the metaverse — only about a third of consumers are positive about it. (Not surprising given how many people lost money as a result of the recent NFT crash).
However, with the increase in crypto usage and the rise of the Gen Z shopper, analysts predict that the market will bounce back. And you don’t need to stay on the sidelines.
Whether it’s experimenting with NFTs, digital showrooms, crypto-based payment options, or developing exclusive spaces in the metaverse — the opportunities to drive greater revenue with Web3 technology are endless.
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