Clothes, art, real estate or even skins in video games: everything can now be bought dematerialised online. Yet these goods are not anchored in our reality, but remain virtual acquisitions.
The Headerpop team has sought to simplify this concept of virtual product in order to understand the phenomenon and to anticipate the impact of this trend on communication, particularly digital communication. To sum up, is it worthwhile for an advertiser, a company manager or a communicator to start looking into the issue of NFT, Blockchain and other acronyms related to the digitalisation of the economy?
First of all, in order to understand the phenomenon properly, we looked at the vocabulary. Each word opens the door to a universe managed by computers and the virtual world. This new way of consuming seems to lead to a world far from our current reality.
Blockchain : a technology that allows information to be stored and transmitted transparently, securely and without central control.
Cryptomonnaie : A cryptocurrency is an electronic, or virtual, currency, as it has no physical form. It is exchanged from peer to peer on a decentralised computer system, or blockchain, which is kept up to date at all times and is (supposedly) tamper-proof. (Journal du Net)
NFT : It is a non-fungible token, i.e. a valued piece of data that represents an object, usually a digital object, to which is attached a digital identity that is linked to one or more owners.
Metavers : Metavers are persistent digital virtual worlds. They are indeed worlds in their own right where there are people represented by avatars, buildings, roads and paths, forests, rivers, beaches; they are virtual because they are real only in their digital version in which one immerses oneself through an avatar, and persistent because they continue to function and evolve when one leaves them: this is what distinguishes them from other video games, even online. These virtual worlds are based on the new Web 3.0, with the motto that everyone has equal access to the means of production, economic models, and services offered, thanks to the verifiable ownership of unique digital assets (unforgeable tokens, property titles, or “NFT”) exchanged via fortified protocols (blockchain and cryptography) and remunerated by virtual money (cryptocurrencies). (Journal du Net)
The NFT market is growing rapidly. In 2021, the market will reach an unprecedented $22 billion, compared to $100 million in 2020. There is therefore a real buzz around this new trend.
NFTs benefit from the support of high-profile personalities. Indeed, some international celebrities have started to invest in non-fungible tokens, and have participated in the popularisation of this market. One example is Jimmy Fallon, who has bought BAYC art. Today, the brand is one of the most sought-after on the market.
Work by BAYC, the most fashionable artist on the NFT market at the moment
In fact, NFTs benefit from the influence of some big names. The communication around this market is therefore favoured. As these non-fungible tokens are in vogue, big brands like Nike are starting to create them. Dematerialised products therefore have a real influence on the field of communication.
However, there is no denying the potential abuses of NFTs. To quote the famous streetwear brand Nike, they have been involved in an NFT scam. Indeed, the company StockX took the liberty of selling 550 NFTs with the Nike logo on them, without the latter’s consent. Unfortunately, NFT scams are commonplace. Several cases of forgery have been reported. So you have to be careful what you find on the market.
The dematerialisation of products concerns many sectors. The luxury industry has not escaped this trend, and virtually all players in this sector have entered the NFT market.
Balenciaga, Vuitton, Gucci, Prada… They are all doing it and it’s called cyberfashion!
The arrival of NFTs and the rise of dematerialisation allow brands to establish a new positioning. These major players can reach a new audience thanks to more affordable prices, and increase their visibility by surfing on this trend. A real communication strategy that is bearing fruit, since many users are buying virtual items linked to the brand.
In fact, many users have started to buy virtual clothes. Why do they do it? For the price, which is lower than “real” clothes, and for the speculation. Indeed, some celebrities confess to wearing a garment only once, for a photo or a ceremony (see article in Metro). With the rise of image networks such as Instagram or Pinterest, it is understandable that some influencers are turning to virtual clothing that is often more profitable.
Daniella Loftus is a young influencer who has created her virtual clothing line. She posts many of her creations, and highlights the ecological character of her brand. In terms of value for money, a dress that would be worth 1,000 euros in “physical” form is worth less than 70 euros in dematerialised form.
Example of virtual clothing
More generally, brands such as Gucci have announced the official arrival of their shop in the metaverse created by Mark Zuckerberg.
This type of NFT is currently the most common, allowing one to purchase an original work of art that is completely dematerialised. You become the owner of an image, in the form of pixels, such as a graphic work, an original illustration, a photograph, paintings, etc.
The year 2021 was marked by the fragmented sale of one of Banksy’s creations. Each buyer could acquire a small dematerialised fragment of the work for $1500.
Video games are not strictly speaking NFTs, but it is possible to acquire items that are dematerialised products, such as skins, clothes, virtual real estate and many other things.
Last summer, for example, Louis Vuitton teamed up with the artist Beeple. For the 200th anniversary of the luxury house, LVMH created a video game. In this game, the player could modify his skin to the brand’s clothes via NFTs. But even further, the video game hid NFTs produced by Beeple, which the players could win (play-to-earn).
In the music sector, NFTs are also very popular. NFTs eliminate the middleman during the sale. Only the author of the music is paid. It is therefore possible for the user to become the owner of tracks by Gorillaz, Nas or Steve Aoki.
The music industry is only at the beginning of its NFT revolution, but already many see it as an unprecedented change.
What a boon to be able to sell all sorts of new virtual products…So one can imagine a museum offering a tour in the metaverse, or the purchase of a virtual work of art in the form of an NFT digital file. Everything would happen online… But is this really an attractive world?
At Headerpop we believe that NFTs have the potential to facilitate the sale of dematerialised products, i.e. cultural products that are already dematerialised and will benefit from a more suitable system. NFTs can simplify their valuation according to their attractiveness, foster artists’ communities and offer exclusivity of remuneration and rights to their owners.
On the other hand, we have many doubts as to the interest of this digitalisation for the real world. Indeed, even if the future metaverse, dreamed of by the CEO of Facebook and many other Silicon Valley leaders, is a financial windfall for speculators… what is the real interest for the consumer?
Indeed, in our daily lives and lifestyles, the trend is, on the contrary, to live authentic and real moments. Tourism or lifestyle brands must, on the contrary, enrich the experience offered in the real world to keep their audience. Moreover, the digitalisation of the economy gives much more value to exchanges between “real humans”. To understand this, compare the value of a beautiful handwritten greeting card to an e-card made on a website…it makes all the difference 🙂
Headerpop can help you with your lifestyle communication strategy, thanks to our specialisation. The Headerpop team is constantly on the lookout for the latest trends, and can help you grow your community and your project. Do not hesitate to contact us.
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