According to statistics from blockchain analysis experts Chainananlysis Inc., the NFT marketplace grew at a lightning-fast pace with figures for 2021 indicating the potential for further massive future growth. They reported that customers sent ‘at least $44.2 billion worth of cryptocurrency’ to Ethereum smart contracts related to NFT collections and marketplaces.
The recent downturn in NFT trading hasn’t deterred NFT integration and innovation within businesses as they seek to utilize blockchain technology to increase brand recognition and customer loyalty.
Unsurprisingly, many traditional businesses, including restaurants, have taken note of this and see huge potential for them to use this exploding sector to their advantage.
NFTs – A Two-Way Super-Highway
Many businesses realise that NFTs can provide massive benefits to both them and their customers. NFTs offer a great solution for building customer loyalty while allowing businesses to learn about their customer base and target products and promotions accordingly.
NFTs are fundamentally digital assets stored on a blockchain and have initially been used in the world of arts and entertainment to store pieces of digital art, music and videos. The appeal of NFTs comes from their rarity, exclusivity and uniqueness. This translates perfectly to the business world where customers or consumers increasingly want to feel like they are special and being treated to a personalized experience.
An expert panel from ‘Forbes Coaches Council’ points out that in a world where profit is increasingly becoming the be-all and end-all, ‘genuine care is essential’ in order to establish companies as ‘customer first’ businesses and therefore build customer loyalty. They list 11 tips on how to do this and it’s no surprise that most of these relate to good communication to and from businesses and customers. NFTs provide an excellent way to do this.
Bringing NFTs to The Table
In the highly competitive and often cut-throat world of the restaurant business, forward-thinking operators have been quick to adapt their business palettes to take on the new digital flavours of the digital world. Successful operators have long been aware of the need to develop excellent lines of communication with their customers.
They need to make them aware of things like special offers and promotions, exclusive events and new menus while equally needing to receive open and speedy feedback from customers about their experiences, suggestions and requirements.
Many restaurants have started to use NFTs to create personalized digital memberships. Flyfish Club was the world’s first private dining club to offer memberships which are purchased through NFTs, providing exclusive access to its restaurant and special events.
Some celebrity chefs are also involved with NFTs, offering various food-related NFTs and their related rewards. And example is Chef Christian Petroni’s whose Garlic Butter Sicilian Pizza NFT holders get access to things like special events, merchandise, secret recipes and cooking classes.
Even Trusty old high street fast-food favourites are getting in the NFT act; McDonald’s created its first-ever NFT to mark the 40th anniversary of the McRib’s which they gave out to a limited number of their followers on Twitter.
In terms of gathering customer information, NFTs provide a great way of doing this. They could be offered as an incentive for consumers to fill out surveys and questionnaires. For existing customers, they can be used to track their spending and product interest behaviour to help further tune the experience to match their requirements.
Not Fully Baked Yet
While there are many examples of how restaurants have adopted NFTs, there is still a long way to go in terms of this being used to its full potential across the industry. One of the first issues is fear of the unknown with some businesses not understanding this area, considering it to be more complicated to adopt than it actually is.
In a recent interview with the Nation’s Restaurant News website, vice-president of marketing at Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Jennifer Faren, makes the point that: “When we start talking NFTs, it’s very confusing and it’s hard to know if they’re real or not. If our frontline teams in the restaurant can’t explain things, I can’t have confidence in us doing them. I would want to get to the point where it becomes more mainstream before even thinking about going down that road.”
However, Faren also said: “Our guests want to get that feeling of, ‘I come here all the time, so I get special perks and access to things that other people don’t.” Faren adds,“They want that feeling of being so valuable to the brand.” NFTs may be the key to what Hopdoddy and other restaurant businesses are looking for in helping customers feel that bond.
So while there is still some way to go in getting the industry to adopt NFTs as a whole, there is sure to be huge continued growth in this sector. It will certainly be one to watch in the near future and could be a potential goldmine for NFT companies to expand into.