Can Web3 Enter The Mainstream With The Help Of Starbucks And Nike?

Like all other aspects of culture, the internet evolves. All it takes is adequate time and innovation. In recent years, this evolution has been spearheaded by Web3 – a new iteration of the internet that provides users with unprecedented levels of ownership, value and power. 

2022 saw multiple brands integrate Web3 technology into their business models to empower their customers and create unique digital experiences. From Starbucks SBUX to Nike NKE, Web3 adoption pervaded a diverse range of economic sectors all around the world.

However, despite the promise of Web3, many critics in the space have voiced concerns around user-friendliness and the steep learning curve of Web3 technologies. The following discussion will explore how Nike and Starbucks are leveraging Web3 solutions, and what the future holds for Web3 mainstream adoption.

What Is Web3?

To understand Web3, it's important to understand what came before. The first version of the internet, also referred to as Web 1, was a collection of links and homepages that first appeared in the late 1990s. For the most part, websites weren’t interactive. The most you could do was read and publish simple content for others to read.

Web2 was the next iteration of the internet. Unlike its predecessor, Web 2 leveraged computer code to allow for files to be both opened and edited rather than just viewed. This version of the internet enabled people to not only consume material, but produce their own and post it on websites, forums and social media networks such as Facebook.

Although Web2 opened the floodgates for innovative services and platforms, it allowed a handful of tech giants to control and monetize personal data. This is where Web3 comes in.

According to Stephen Sabo, Founder of Ethereal Consulting, "Web3 can simply be understood as the read, write and own phase of the internet."

In other words, it's a user-centric and decentralized iteration of the internet – redistributing power of ownership, personal data and governance to creators and the community."

Why Web3 Is A Big Opportunity For Brands

With the adoption of Web3 across the global economy, the line between the physical and digital world is going to continue to blur in the coming years. Users will be more connected and active on the internet than ever before, which in turn, will foster extraordinary demand for more creative and engaging digital products and experiences. 

"Beyond digital products and services, Web3 also has the ability to revolutionize how businesses foster brand loyalty, increase brand awareness and amplify the consumer experience", stated Sabo in a recent interview with Benzinga.

Leveraging NFTs To Create Loyal Communities 

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are the perfect opportunity for brands to build a community around their products and services – creating exclusive environments that incentivizes and rewards brand loyalty.

NFTs are one of the many technologies that fall under the umbrella of Web3. Put simply, NFTs are a type of cryptographic token that represents a unique underlying asset. They serve as verifiable proof of ownership and authenticity. NFTs can represent tangible items such as physical artwork and real estate, but also non-tangible items such as intellectual property and individuals’ identities.

Starbucks is one of the first companies to integrate NFTs at scale through its blockchain-based loyalty program Starbucks Odyssey. The new program, which features coffee-themed NFTs that translate to real world experiences, is an extension of Starbucks’ existing loyalty program and is powered by the Polygon network.

At its core, the Starbucks Odyssey is a way for loyal customers to access a diverse range of rewards beyond the perks they can today, like free drinks. As Starbucks continues to provide value to a finite and exclusive number of NFT holders, the value and demand for loyalty NFTs will likely rise – creating a win-win situation for both the business but more importantly, the consumers.

Positioning Advantage Increased Brand Awareness 

Another key use case of Web3 technology is the ability for brands to create interactive and memorable experiences for their customers. This is particularly important for younger demographics, who don’t want to interact with antiquated businesses; instead, they want to engage with brands that are digitally-integrated and changing with the times.

In late 2022, Nike announced the launch of SWOOSH, a web3-enabled platform that will allow Nike’s customer base to sell physical and digital products, but also enable creators to collaborate with Nike’s design team. 

The virtual collections will be available next year as digital apparel, sneakers and accessories; all of which unlock benefits to real-life events and products. Through Web3 integration, Nike is taking its first step towards cultivating an equitable and vibrant digital community that allows stakeholders from all walks of life to own the future of sport.

How Can Brands Accelerate Web3 Integration?

A key hindrance to Web3 adoption is the UX-complexity and steep learning curve of blockchain technology which justifiably frightens a lot of customers. This is why it is essential that businesses can flawlessly integrate Web3 technology on the back-end of their products and services rather than on the front-end.

Starbucks’ focus on integrating Web3 on the back-end of its program rather than on the front-end, is a key reason why the initiative has hit the ground running. The custodial wallet for each NFT is credit-card focused, which allows customers to seamlessly leverage the benefits of Web3 technology while bypassing the UX-complexity associated with blockchain technology. 

A cost-efficient and effective way other brands can follow suit is through investing more into Web3 consulting services. With the astronomical budgets possessed by behemoths like Starbucks and Nike, it’d be silly not to allocate a small proportion of capital into Web3 consulting services given the tremendous growth potential for Web3 use cases.

Ethereal Consulting is an industry-leading Web3 consulting firm that specializes in helping clients discover opportunities and drive growth through Web3 integration. Ethereal empowers teams to define a direction in the Web3 ecosystem and educate them on the opportunities being capitalized on by global leaders such as Nike and Twitter today. From large-scale conglomerates to small-medium sized companies, consulting services like Ethereal are a great way for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. 

Can Nike And Stabucks Bring Web3 Into The Mainstream?

"All in all, while Web3 is still a controversial and misunderstood topic at present, there's no doubt that it will be a disruptive force in a broad range of industries in the years to come" – Stephen Sabo, Founder of Ethereal Consulting. "What's needed is a greater focus on Web3 integration from large international companies that have the resources to empower and educate their customers."

As mentioned, Web3 technologies should be back-end focused, shifting the emphasis from a technical perspective to a use-case focused approach. Brands leveraging Web3 experts and consulting services such as Ethereal Consulting are on the vanguard of innovation, pushing the needle for new consumer experiences, but more importantly, a better and more equitable digital landscape. 


Featured image sourced from Shutterstock

This post contains sponsored advertising content. This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be investing advice.

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