Taking NFTs Beyond Commercial, to Community


NFTs, non-fungible tokens, emerged as a huge business opportunity in 2021.

But the opportunity for them is much broader than that, according to Avery Akkineni, president of VaynerNFT, a NFT consultancy that has worked with Coach, American Eagle and other brands.

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“NFTs provide a huge business opportunity, and anyone who watches OpenSea and is following the headlines knows that some NFTs sell for huge amounts of money, and that is exciting and surprising. And what’s really exciting is that a lot of that is in the hands of creators, people who are making art or music or developing these communities and programs,” Akkineni said in a conversation with WWD tech reporter Adriana Lee.

“But there is much more to NFTs than just the marketing aspect,” Akkineni continued. “NFTs can build communities, they can spotlight emerging creators, they can contribute to philanthropy, they can help build brands, and so much more.”

Akkineni shared the example of Cryptopunk’s free NFTs: “one of the most valuable NFT projects to date” — as a means of community building.

For brands, Akkineni said there is an opportunity to think long term and use NFTs to do the same. He used the examples of L’Oréal and clinicNFTs as the most prominent so far, saying marketers should consider NFTs to “add value to the space and add something special.”

“Current NFT buyers are around 90 percent male and there is an opportunity to beauty brands to create something really special for female consumers,” said Akkineni.

“Twenty-twenty-one really opened people’s eyes to this new phenomenon of digital asset ownership,” Akkineni said. “For me, NFTs really represent the first time that an individual person has had the opportunity to own digital assets and that this is provable on the blockchain.”

With newer digital concepts such as NFTs, Metaverse, and Web 3, Akkineni suggested that a cultural shift is taking place.

“As with anything, there will be people who are skeptical of a new technology. There were people who were skeptical about using credit cards online,” Akkineni said. “There are people who were skeptical of the Internet, or skeptical around, ‘Who’s going to care, you know, what I eat for breakfast?’ Who is going to follow Campbell’s Soup on Twitter?

But 2020 created massive changes in the way people use and consume media, the executive said, and that has led to “a very clear opportunity.”

“To skeptics, we say, educate yourself. Listen, learn and see if this is a community you want to be a part of,” he said.

The big change with the latest generation of digital offerings is the idea of ​​ownership, Akkineni said. “A lot of the content that people have been creating and sharing is actually owned by the major platforms,” ​​he said.

For consumers looking to participate in these technologies, simplification is coming, Akkineni said. “The advancements made by Twitter with their hexagon and Coinbase’s verification of NFT ownership have launched their NFT marketplace… there is much to be done in developing these easier gateways to consumer adoption.” , said.

“I don’t know how a light bulb works, do I? I like it, the mechanics of it: I understand that it works, the use case and how to activate it”, said Akkineni. “This is what the next generation of early NFT users will look like. Understand the value, understand the use case, be able to interact with it, but without needing to know all the technical details.”


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