When it comes to the ways in which consumers interact with brands, NFTs are web3’s way of saying “out with the old and in with the new.”
They have grown from simple collectible art to tokens that allow brands to build a community through verified ownership and the removal of third-party intermediaries.
For users, NFTs are also serving as the gateway to ultimate individualized experiences. Enter what the web3 world calls “token-gating.”
PROOF OF OWNERSHIP
It’s important to understand that token-gating is rooted in NFT’s native utility: proof or verification of ownership. This is the basic utility inherent to all NFTs, regardless of the asset type.
This proof could be user ownership of a physical or digital asset, belonging to a unique group or program, or even proof of action that the user has done something and is entitled to a privilege.
WHAT’S SPECIAL ABOUT THIS PROOF?
The proof provided by NFTs marks the first time in digital history that users can truly have ownership of a piece of digital data.
With NFTs, the data stays on their phones, in their wallets of users rather than living stagnantly on a centralized platform out of their control.
In other words, instead of signing over their data, users will choose to show their data at a single moment every time they connect their wallet.
SO HOW DOES TOKEN-GATING WORK?
Technically speaking, token-gating is quite simple.
- Users must first have a web3 wallet.
- Upon connecting this wallet to a token-gated platform, the user's credentials (e.g. wallet content, wallet activities) will be “scanned".
- If the wallet meets certain token holding conditions, personalized content is displayed and made accessible.
- The ways in which users will obtain access will depend on the brand in charge of the community. In some instances, only a wallet connection is needed. In others, the NFT comes with a purchase the consumer has already made.
Token-gating can help:
- Streamline consumer login experiences. Once a wallet is connected, usernames and passwords will be a thing of the past.
- Provides multi-level credential verification, which provides an elevated amount of trust among community members.
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE GATE; IT'S ABOUT PERSONALIZATION WITH CONTROL
Prior to the wonders of web3 technology, for users to access a gated website, they had to give away personal data. But eventually what happens behind the gate once unlocked is a standardized, non-personalized experience.
When such a procedure is swapped with NFTs in a given user’s wallet, this defines their digital identity and personality, ultimately personalizing the customer journey for each and every holder, as no one wallet can or ever will be the same.
Token-gating for brands comes down to respecting the customer’s data. As users are given complete control over their data, this will ultimately prompt users to share more about their preferences, interests, and intentions, but on their own terms.
In a nutshell, this technological tool is about not only opening the gate but also providing personalized experiences when the gate is open. It is the future of digital marketing in the future of the internet.
BRANDS ALREADY ACTIVELY DEPLOYING TOKEN-GATING STRATEGIES
We’ve compiled a few successful examples of brands with dedicated communities who have employed a token-gating strategy.
YSL’S BEAUTIFIED WEB3 EXPERIENCE
The iconic fashion and beauty brand Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) has been active in building out its brand for a web3 audience.
YSL has launched multiple NFT projects to offer its community brand-inspired digital assets and social tokens to participate in the digital YSL microcosmos it is creating. Users that would like to participate in their ecosystem are faced with token-gating.
For example, in June 2022, YSL distributed 10,000 NFTs from the “YSL Beauty Golden Block'' collection. Holders of the NFTs received premiere access to two token drops on P00ls, which featured artists Kittens & Agathe Mougin.
The 10K YSL Beauty Golden Blocks - which are ERC-721 tokens minted on Polygon- also unlock new utilities throughout the year. This includes whitelisting for NFT drops, among others.
This entire YSL Beauté web3 experience is behind the token-gated website, which can only be accessed by downloading the YSL digital wallet.
STADE TOULOUSAIN FANS SCORE WITH NFTS
Another brand using this technology to inspire deeper community participation is the French professional rugby team Stade Toulousain. The sports world has been a massive adopter of community-based web3 technologies due to the collector mindset of sports fans.
In the case of Stade Toulousain, the team offered its community the possibility to participate in the first limited edition NFT drop, allowing them to win or buy even more exclusive digital assets.
Holders of these assets then unlocked several exclusive experiences, some outside of the digital world, such as in-person press conference access, attending a warm-up, or even a personalized scarf.
LACOSTE PHYGITAL EXCLUSIVES
The iconic French brand Lacoste is also jumping into the world of token-gating perks for its long-time community. Owners of NFTs from the brand’s first-ever drop will have exclusive access to a new collection of 350 physical products - which includes a cap, hoodie, t-shirt, and polo.
For heightened exclusivity, Lacoste created a dedicated NFT store for these sales. It is a platform through which the brand can engage with its community around token-gated experiences via its UNDW3 token and manage all things pertaining to the NFTs. This entails how NFTs are displayed, the whitelist, drops, and the selling and offering thereof.
Users who connect their wallets to the platform and hold the UNDW3 token can get whitelisted for the entire Lacoste web3 experience.
While YSL, Stade Toulousain and Lacoste are prime examples of brands across various industries using this technology to connect with their communities, they are far from the only ones.
While web3 technologies are still gaining momentum for users not native to the space, that momentum is quickly picking up.
Major brands and companies such as the aforementioned YSL, Gucci, Mastercard and others are all eagerly leading the way to mass adoption. These household names are catalysts for onboarding the next billion users to the future of the internet.
Token-gating offers a tangible, efficient, yet exciting way of creating community around brands. For users, NFT ownership reveals new ways of engagement, while bringing out a sense of purpose.
It provides ownership that is not only verified but non-fungible. Additionally token-gating opens the door to highly personalized experiences that users own, but don’t necessarily have to share, in terms of their personal data.
Ultimately, this is what brands should aim for.
This takes a unique piece of technology to give power to those that support them, because community building is the backbone of a brand's sustained existence.
Brands employing token-gating help advance the space towards a more connected and secure digital future, where personalization is owned.