Phygital Experiences are Revolutionizing Customer Engagement
In a web3 world, brands that offer phygital experiences are in the best position to grow and reach new audiences.
When smartphones and ecommerce were first on the rise, consumer experiences tended to be either physical or digital. Today, many brands have realized you can do both, especially when two-thirds of Millennials pick up the products they order online. As technology changes how customers and businesses interact, brands must lean into “phygital” experiences to find their audiences and grow.
What Are Phygital Experiences?
Phygital experiences blend physical and digital elements in a way that would be impossible to access or represent in a single medium. These experiences are already all around us, from scannable QR codes to automated kiosks that manage in-person shopping orders. The latest advancements, however, revolve around physical-backed NFTs — unique collectibles that straddle the line between a digital object and a physical product.
For brands, the real value of this technology isn’t about selling physical or digital goods. Instead, it’s an opportunity to build connections with highly-engaged fan communities. For companies with a valuable, under-utilized IP (intellectual property), phygital experiences can be monetized in ways that attract high-value customers and cultivate brand loyalty — especially through the practical power and flexibility of asset tokenization.
Examples of Phygital Experiences
RTFKT was one of the first companies to drive interest in digital apparel. After Nike acquired it, the brand’s reach extended to the physical world, too. Its first major post-acquisition release was the CryptoKicks iRL line, an expansion of Nike’s all-digital CryptoKicks collectibles. Any customer who buys an NFT sneaker collectible can redeem it for an exclusive product — one of 19,000 sneakers with varying color combinations.
Collectible sneakers already represent a $10 billion industry with resale prices for individual pairs in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. By pairing luxury shoes with digital counterparts, RTFKT simultaneously serves its audience of physical and digital collectors. CryptoKicks is also generating interest from tech-friendly big spenders since the sneaker is a smart object, pairing with a mobile app to control built-in lighting, auto-lacing, and haptic feedback. Clearly, Nike’s competitors already have some catching up to do in the phygital space.
DC Comics and Funko
Funko is known for its “Pop!” figures that depict cute versions of characters from various pop culture franchises. But the brand has also experimented with phygital NFTs, bundling digital versions of its toys with physical products. Now, Funko is helping DC Comics enter the phygital market through a partnership with Walmart and Warner Bros.
As part of the arrangement, Funko created a Pop!-ified version of a famous DC comic book cover, limited to 30,000 units. Any customers with the product can connect their crypto wallet to the World Asset eXchange (WAX) blockchain and claim an NFT version of the artwork. As a result, collectors gain a phygital product and enter a digital collectibles market that includes NFTs from brands like Funko and Topps. Between Walmart’s high visibility and the growing awareness of phygital mediums, this presents a playbook for forward-thinking entertainment brands to reach even bigger audiences.
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CULT & RAIN
Where Nike sought to create phygital goods for footwear customers, CULT & RAIN has its sights on the broader luxury fashion market. This clothing brand produces exclusive jackets, hoodies, and sneakers with an embedded NFC (near-field communication) chip. The chip connects to an associated NFT that authenticates the item and grants access to unique rewards.
CULT & RAIN has several opportunities to use its products to deepen consumer engagement. For example, not only does the NFT allow the company to distribute exclusive videos and brand access, it can provide token-gated access to events — digital or physical. In this way, buying a collectible connects buyers to a larger and, arguably, stronger community. Between these initiatives and partnerships with brands such as DRESSX, a virtual clothing company, CULT & RAIN is leveraging its phygital presence to drive growth.
As the world’s largest ticket sales and distribution company, Ticketmaster’s entry into NFTs is worthy of special attention. The company recently revealed its Ethereum NFT token-gating service, which lets artists and event managers set tickets aside for NFT holders. When token holders connect their crypto wallet to Ticketmaster’s platform, the system recognizes any branded NFTs and redirects access to exclusive ticket pools.
The service has several benefits for both Ticketmaster and artists. First and foremost, it creates a less-competitive channel for the most valuable seats, letting the artist’s biggest fans find tickets without relying on scalpers. But it also helps token holders connect with Ticketmaster, musicians, and sports teams. With this new service, Ticketmaster can encourage anyone to get a crypto wallet and participate in this exclusive marketplace.
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Where Phygital Businesses Go From Here
Now that everyone from retailers to luxury clothing companies is finding ways to offer phygital experiences, one thing is clear: Entertainment brands must innovate in these digital spaces to maintain their competitive edge. The challenge is extending your brand into web3 environments in a way that increases the value of existing assets and connects with your audience.
Thankfully, Dibbs is well-versed in this challenge. We help brands secure their position in digital marketplaces with an easy-to-use tokenization-as-a-service platform built on the uniquely practical value of collectible-backed NFTs. In the process, you can generate revenue streams that monetize valuable IP while maintaining brand safety. Schedule a demo with Dibbs to give your customers exciting new ways to connect with you and create communities around your physical collectibles.
Ben Plomion is Dibbs' Chief Marketing Officer. As a child, Ben collected comic books and Panini Football stickers. Now, Ben's PC consists of physical-backed NFTs.