NFTs have been the talk of the fashion industry for several months now, bringing a new level of exclusivity and opportunities to turn digital designs and collections into extremely valuable and unique collector’s items.
With so much potential, it’s largely a time of experimentation for brands as they navigate the metaverse and find a meaningful place in it. Companies like SmartMedia Technologies, a Web 3.0 platform that drives first-party data acquisition, user engagement and loyalty across digital and mobile audiences, are a part of that navigation, helping brands understand what the industry should look like and providing foresight. about how the industry continues to grow shaped by this vision.
Michael Chock, Director of Solutions at SmartMedia Technologies, told WWD: “A big part of what we’re seeing now is that the NFT market is about 95% speculative. You look at some of these NFTs that go down and you see they are very successful, and then you look at some of them that a celebrity can’t even sell. We work in both spaces, but our true belief around NFTs is less about speculation and about how an NFT becomes a currency of engagement and what we built when our company was founded on this robust story of advertising technology.”
Notably, the original team at SmartMedia Technologies built an ad server that they sold to Microsoft for $6 billion and then to Facebook Marketplace.
“Now, we’ve built the first enterprise marketplace for creators, brands and agencies, so we can use NFTs as a currency of engagement, as a way to build communities, and as a way to generate and monetize IP,” said Chock. “Do we take that side of how we use it for loyalty, how we use it for consumer engagement, and how we create really unique brand experiences that carry more value than dropping a new shoe and expecting people to buy it?”
Operationally, the company has a TV agency in its group and serves to operate in Web 1.0, TV, Web 2.0, all digital and now Web 3.0. The aim is to make it extremely easy for consumers and brands, noting that having all these functions provides a good transition as brands work to figure out strategies for moving forward.
In contrast, many of the solutions available are point solutions that are only in Web 3.0. The problem with that, Chock said, is that it makes it a challenge for brands to fill the gap for consumers who are overwhelmed to see that to buy something, they might have to download the technology to get the token into another cryptocurrency wallet specific to that. finance the desired action.
This multi-step process created a growing sense of negativity in online forums. Chock explained that this speculation also comes from consumers’ discomfort with buying things that have no direct connection to a physical, tangible piece.
“Even when you look at the successful NFTs, the art is a big concept that is already a challenge for me; it’s easier for people to understand than something like landing in the metaverse,” Chock said. “Where I counter that is when you think about what a metaverse is, it’s just a digital ecosystem, and we’ve been spending money in the digital ecosystem for a long time.”
As an example, Chock points to Farmville, where people are paying money to buy fake cows, fake crops, and fake land in a metaverse where they pay real money. Call of Duty is another massive metaverse that people pay not only for access, but also for upgrading tools, technology, and everything else.
And many consumers are becoming more comfortable with buying digital goods in exchange for regular currency. However, where this mindset shift hasn’t happened for many consumers, Chock said, is understanding what utility is. They want to know when they buy an NFT and what they get.
Responding to this, some of the brands that SmartMedia Technologies works with have created what are known as “utility tokens”, meaning that owning the token gives the consumer ownership of a physical good or does something.
“I think a big thing for fashion is to look at the Supreme model,” said Chock. “I used to live a block away. [a] Supreme store in SoHo, and every morning when you know, there’s going to be a drop, people who start camping out the night before in front of the Supreme store. But imagine if you do this for a fashion brand using NFT to have fans engaged in a loyalty program, have them take high value actions for your brand, whether they’re following you on social media, or posting pictures of you in your clothes, they receive a digital token and only that NFT would have access to the new drop.”
And the queuing community wouldn’t go away; instead, it creates a community in a virtual environment so that engagement that benefits the brand and the consumer receives new content.
“I think the next kind of step for NFT in the fashion industry is to replicate some of this similar methodology if people have reason that people are used to it,” Chock said. “Is it this transition of how do you get consumers into that mindset very easily? Where we focus and where we think the industry is going is saying now how we use NFTs to build markets and loyalties, rather than just these one-off drops.”
Putting it in the context of luxury fashion, Chock said to imagine buying a Birkin bag. “There’s a nice feature, but buying a Birkin bag is also a statement. It’s saying I have status, I have wealth if I have those assets and when you carry that Birkin bag your sphere of influence is only the people who are watching you. Now the idea with NFTs and fashion is to say, ‘OK, what if instead of that Birkin bag, you buy a digital Birkin bag or imagine if they came as companions, so when you buy a Birkin, you get an NFT?’ Suddenly, your sphere of influence where you post this becomes much larger.”
SmartMedia Technologies is seeing this specifically with the Millennial audience of consumers who buy things and want to showcase not just immediate contemporaries, but create a greater impact of the status and value that these fashion brands have in their digital ecosystems – digital ecosystems are much larger. than physicists. Still, some consumers don’t even realize when they’re acting in the metaverse or on the Web3.
Looking ahead, Chock said educating the consumer about the metaverse is a joint responsibility of the consumer as well as the brand and tech companies. With endless possibilities for digital marketplaces and AI events, as all brands become part of the metaverse, Chock said it’s imperative to be authentic and offer the consumer – and their impending avatars – something of value.
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