How NFTs are reaching a mass audience: 5 trends

At the NFT Paris congress, 10,000 people came together to discuss innovative technologies, including Brigitte Macron. Guest author Burkhard Müller was there and identified five trends.

The NFT Paris congress was a great success and a milestone for the use of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in Europe. More than 10,000 people gathered on the Seine at the end of February to discuss innovative technologies and their areas of application. The participation of First Lady Brigitte Macron underlined the importance of the NFT world for her country. Will the NFT ecosystem now reach a mass audience? The line-up from art, fashion, tech, marketing and politics had a lot to offer. Burkhard Müller, CDO of Mutabor and ADC Board Member Digital, was on site to get an idea.

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In early 2022, the initial hype around NFT came to an end: crypto prices collapsed and trading in NFTs declined significantly. NFT Paris can be seen as an indicator of whether NFT is quietly evolving or losing importance. The high density of brand decision-makers:inside compared to 2022 was striking. Especially automotive, fashion and lifestyle brands discussed their first projects and strategies in the audience and on the stages. In the panels, chats and keynotes, 5 trends emerged that have the potential to reach the masses.

Virtual brand community connects customers

For Gmoney, the future of the brand lies in connecting people in the real world and immortalizing their meetings via the blockchain. This creates a community around the brand and all the people who interact with it. Gmoney shows how this works in a fun way with its luxury brand 9dcc: On the one hand, each 9dcc shirt is linked to an NFT, which proves its authenticity, and on the other hand, it has an integrated NFC chip with which anyone:r who meets the owner:in of the shirt can collect an NFT - as proof that they have met. On the one hand, this offers protection against plagiarism, and on the other, it strengthens the brand community.

Immersive Commerce

Online stores all look the same today, whether it's Amazon or Louis Vuitton. In the physical world, we know supermarkets, but also flagship stores, show rooms, malls and more. Immersive shopping experiences are the future of online retail. It is conceivable that digital and physical products will be presented in virtual storefronts, optionally protected by NFTs. Live shopping events, virtual flagship stores and visiting showrooms together with peers are also an option. Lacoste and H&M have already taken the first steps in this direction, and other major fashion houses are also currently working on strategies to stage and monetize their brands in their own immersive world.

Sustainable Sampling

NFTs offer an opportunity for sustainable product development. The idea of "sustainable sampling" involves brands initially selling digital products to an innovation-minded community to test interest and ensure that only the necessary quantity is physically produced. The Fabricant is a fashion company that is already betting on this trend and believes that in two years, about half of fashion customers will also buy digital fashion.

Storyfied Products

In his panel, Benoit Pagotto, co-founder of RTFKT, explained that in the future, fashion brands should no longer present a mere collection. Rather, he said, it is important to sell a unique experience. RTFKT delivers with its Rimowa-collaboration is an example of this. In addition to the actual main product, the suitcase, there is a digital collectible: a small robot or Workerbot with a higher quantity at a lower price. The product becomes the campaign and the campaign becomes the product. Important: Established brands don't necessarily have to create their own immersive world. Successful NFT projects such as DegenToonz are always looking specifically for cooperation partners. Companies like Deadfellaz and Wrangler have already made successful use of it.

Mini Games

Given that NFTs thrive on an attention economy that requires continuous engagement, the team at Farokh (RugRadio) and Yuga Labs (Bored Ape Yacht Club) have been working this year on how to elicit more engagement. With their mini-game DookeyDash, they've done it: their community has consistently played and shared content on social media over the past few weeks, resulting in 40 percent growth. They gave the audience a tip: "Start with something fun or absurd and develop a loving, high-quality experience from there" - in their case, a poop joke.

If you start now, you invest in the future and have a head start in knowledge, branding and customer loyalty.

In summary, the fact that this year's conference was attended not only by techies and artists, but also by major international brands, shows that the topic is recognized as a promising market. However, the industry is still in its infancy and has not yet reached a mass market. Tim Walther from the Volkswagen Group put it in a nutshell: "The market is currently still small, too small. It needs momentum like ChatGPT just had."

For me, it is clear that companies that invest now will have advantages in the future in terms of knowledge, branding and customer loyalty.

*Burkhard Müller is CDO at Mutabor and ADC Board Member Digital.

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