Maddie Raedts is Founder and CCO at IMA || Global Head of Social Media for Fashion & Luxury at MediaMonks || Forbes 30 Under 30.
At the end of last year, the market for non-fungible tokens reached a value of $41 billion. Seemingly out of nowhere, unique digital objects linked to blockchain technology exploded. Naturally, the fashion and luxury industry, known for innovating to talk about the moment and the changes in culture, decided to do everything. In doing so, stepping out of the status quo and into new playing fields has been key. Right now, Web3 is one of the hottest new kids on the block. This is something we have helped customers at Media.Monks.
Web3 represents the next era of the Internet. It’s about rewiring the inner workings of the web and changing how information is stored, shared and owned using block chain. “In theory, a blockchain-based web could break monopolies over who controls information, who makes money, and even how networks and businesses operate,” according to a writer for harvard business review.
In practice, many major brands rely on Web3 for the creation of their community, which is at the heart of the customer journey in the virtual age. We’re seeing more and more fashion brands adding digital layers to elevate their existing collector communities, offering NFTs that consumers can use to dress up their avatar in the virtual world or access exclusive drops in the real world. NFTs target a group of people, large or small, who find value in a specific project or product, essentially creating a new kind of community space for fans, both online and offline.
After a long hiatus from in-person events, I think we can safely say that people are hungry for real-world connections. Many of those working to bring Web3 to life know this, so they focus on creating experiences that can exist in both the virtual and physical worlds, and the fashion and luxury industry is heavily involved.
Despite the downturns, brands are preparing for the future of digital
Despite the crypto gold rush, the enthusiasm, energy and investment of many people in this space is dwindling due to the recent crypto slowdown. We’re seeing many brands curbing stunt-like NFTs, rethinking their metaverse strategies, and ending their Web3 hiring.
A safe bet? Sure.
It is important to keep in mind that the world of decentralized finance has a history of volatility. For example, bitcoin fell before, but then it went up again. However, I think the crypto downturn is different this time as many other industries, like fashion and luxury, are now also involved in the Web3 space.
Industry experts argue now is an opportune time to simply ride out the storm and educate, innovate and build along the way. Don’t give up on your efforts all at once, but strategize for the future. They are comparing the current situation to the dot-com collapse decades ago, which ultimately made brands that focused on securing long-term strategies more viable.
Forward-thinking brands experimenting in this space don’t seem to be backing down, but on the contrary looking to the future. They are taking a closer look at their investments in NFTs and Web3 and focusing on building long-term strategies. That means fewer PR stunts and more meaningful use cases. The NFT community has a fairly short attention span and moves on to the next thing very quickly. My advice is to be nimble and experimental, but build now for when the bull run begins again.
Why? Because Web3 and brand community go hand in hand.
Linking offline and online lives together via Web3
What makes a solid Web3 strategy? Rather than just the monetary value of your brand’s NFT assets, community responsiveness is a primary indicator of effectiveness. Fostering an NFT community is very helpful, as it can help build a brand’s community culture – right now the bear market allows brands to focus on this. In the end, what brand doesn’t want a loyal, tight-knit following of fans who really love what you do?
Community building can happen online or offline, but it’s much more powerful when it’s a combination of the two. Fortunately, two years of intermittent confinement have not made us forget the possibilities of meeting people in person, on the contrary, many of us want to. What makes Web3 exciting is that it facilitates mobility between online and offline. The new web is about more than just keeping followers on Instagram; it’s about engaging and connecting with your audience. Meetings are essential to make this possible and, above all, successful.
Just look at brands like the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Dapper Labs, which have built thriving NFT communities. Combining hype and exclusivity, BAYC invites fans into virtual spaces as well as real life events. To simply call these events “parties” would be an understatement; they are an effective way to activate and strengthen a community.
This shift from online to offline offers new levels of emotion, intimacy and inclusion in a group of people. Unlike anything we’ve seen before since the rise of the Internet, Web3 is capable of building a sense of community and fostering a sense of belonging – in an age when most people spend so much of their time in front of screens, we tend to forget how much those connections fuel us.
Market woes or not, fashion and luxury go hand in hand
Despite the current bear market, fashion and luxury are put the pedal to the metal innovate at digital speed. While Prada is expand its Web3 offer and Louis Vuitton is also tap into NFTsBalmain teamed up with MINTNFT to create their NFT campaign – the list goes on.
Never afraid to innovate, the fashion and luxury industry puts long-term Web3 strategies into practice. The goal? To go beyond the hype and embrace the future, and so should you. Don’t stall or slow down your innovation efforts just because NFT prices fluctuate. Instead, start learning from successful use cases, seek out inspiring and disruptive partners, and bring your long-term Web3 strategies to life — your fan community is counting on you.