Renault, PMU, Têtu… why do brands insist so much on NFTs?

Published 16 Dec 2022 at 13:03

It’s done, Renault has just launched its NFTs. A collection of 1,972 “non-fungible tokens” bearing the image of the R5 city car, marking the rebirth of this model. At first glance, the diamond comes after the blow… but it’s far from the only one. In recent days, announcements have multiplied from brands of all kinds: the Aquarium of Paris, Coca-Cola, PMU, the magazine “Têtu” and, coup d’état, this Friday with Donald’s collector’s card Trump.

This fierce interest in NFTs from big brands, to which we can add Cristiano Ronaldo, AFP, Aasics, Mattel or the National Rugby League, collides with the decline, in value, of this market, down 76% since January, according to Nansen. In 2021, in full euphoria for tokens, the brands that launched wanted to give themselves an innovative varnish. The buyers themselves hoped for a capital gain. But in the middle of crypto winter?

End speculation and buzz

At this stage it should be remembered that there are different types of NFT. Collectibles that have hit the headlines and fueled speculation (Bored Apes, Azuki), games (Sorare), digital works (rare, such as those by Beeple) and finally here, those that interest us, brand tokens. These NFTs share a single goal: to animate communities of fans.

For Alexandre Embry, Head of Capgemini Metaverse Lab, “the marketing campaigns launched today [et qui voient aboutir ces NFT, NDLR], is the result of decisions made several months ago, because reflection takes time”. “We got out of the speculative aspect and the buzz, the brands want to create proximity, membership and emulation,” he continues.

Between loyalty card and financial asset

At Starbucks, NFTs are a way to reinvent the good old loyalty card, which no longer appeals to young customers. The recipe is often the same: competitions, access to a group of fans, events or testing new products and rewards in the form of reductions if you collect enough points by consuming. A well-known mechanism. And then NFTs, always limited, are themselves cut out for scarcity marketing.

With their community aspect – thanks to Discord groups where fans talk to each other and can access, for example, at Renault , designer Gilles Vidal (!) – brings together NFT’s loyalty programs and the famous Facebook fan pages; who lived well. Some brands’ NFTs are free, but often they are paid, usually around a hundred euros. The difference ? “The fans are much more involved,” notes Alexandre Embry. For him, payment avoids purely opportunistic behavior. But don’t they put a net in the paw?

“It is difficult to predict the evolution of the price of NFTs, but it is logical that customers have an underlying expectation that their tokens will appreciate”, notes Laurent Aliphat, Director of Marketing Content at Renault. . Accordingly, “they will have an interest in talking positively about the brand,” or NFTs will … write off; it is also to avoid the misleading effect of a devaluation of tokens that they always come with services and other goodies.

Niche marketing for geeks?

“The speculative bubble has deflated, but NFTs are still very interesting for brands, provided they have strong communities, like Têtu, whose readers are attached to the title, or Lacoste, where fans have proposed ideas. creative for the brand”, nuances Sébastien Houdusse, Chief Strategy Officer of BETC Fullsix. If the metaverse, which is very much tied to NFTs, “has lost its splendor”, according to him, NFTs can “renew the customer relationship”. At Renault, we talk about “CRM 3.0”, which means a “decentralized” relationship with customers. But not all customers.

Currently, these NFTs exclude the largest number because they prefer to reach Web3 followers, young, connected and prescribers; and because “it also provides an innovative varnish for marketing departments”, says Sébastien Houdusse! As a result, between the “coin” (their creation) and the “drop” (diffusion), the NFTs are stuck in the primitive technical sea that saw them born.

Not so expensive for good reviews

Each brand also has its own driving forces. Nike has launched an exchange platform (Swoosh) to trade NFT clothing for the metaverse, because its first step in this field has been crowned with success. McDonald’s, pioneer of NFTs in April 2021 and stepping down this winter, “must be where the pop culture is, but Web3 is right about it”, sums up Stéphane Gazzo, general manager of DDB Paris, in charge of the brand .

While waiting to see if McDo can put its loyalty program in the NFT sauce, Stéphane Gazzo admits that “Web3 affects far fewer people than any social network”. Despite a year and a half of hindsight, “it’s hard to see what it brings to the brand image,” he continues. Pragmatically, he sees above all that these 3.0 operations “do not cost so much to produce and that in the short term they bring positive comments and good press coverage”.

For others, NFTs will truly transform marketing once they’ve disappeared behind uses. After all, to talk about contactless transactions, who is still talking about RFID loyalty cards or NFC payment?

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