NFTs: The New Frontier in Building Community and Loyalty for Brands

BluShark Media
3 min readMar 1, 2024

In a digital age where engagement and loyalty are gold, companies are continuously seeking innovative ways to connect with their audience. Starbucks Odyssey’s community lead, Steve Kaczynski, sheds light on how non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are emerging as a powerful tool for fostering brand loyalty and community, even as the NFT market experiences fluctuations from its peak. Kaczynski’s insights, derived from his experience and shared on TechCrunch’s Chain Reaction podcast, underscore a growing trend among brands to leverage NFTs in loyalty programs, offering a glimpse into the future of brand-customer relationships.

Bridging Communities with NFTs

Starbucks Odyssey, launched in 2022, exemplifies how integrating NFTs with traditional loyalty programs can create enriched customer experiences. By marrying the Starbucks Reward loyalty program with the unique world of NFTs, Starbucks has not just innovated within the realm of customer engagement; it has also facilitated the formation of vibrant, interconnected communities. Kaczynski’s observation that people from disparate locations have formed real-life friendships thanks to their participation in Starbucks Odyssey highlights the unprecedented potential of NFTs to bring people together, transcending geographical boundaries.

Beyond Web3 Enthusiasts

The success of Starbucks Odyssey, with its five-tiered system and over 58,000 participants at the initial level, indicates that the appeal of NFTs extends far beyond the circle of Web3 natives. This broad interest suggests that NFTs possess the versatility to attract and engage a diverse audience, offering brands a new avenue to expand their reach and foster deep connections with consumers.

Experiential Rewards and Third-Party Utilities

NFTs open up a realm of possibilities for experiential rewards and third-party utilities, as evidenced by Starbucks sending top loyalty program participants on a trip to its coffee farms in Costa Rica. Such initiatives not only enhance brand loyalty through unique experiences but also illustrate how NFTs can serve as a bridge to real-world activities and benefits. Furthermore, Kaczynski’s vision of local businesses and major brands alike utilizing NFTs for loyalty programs or as tickets to events presents a future where digital ownership and participation yield tangible rewards.

Redefining Ownership and Engagement

The advent of NFTs has revolutionized the concept of digital ownership, granting users verifiable ownership of digital items in a way that was previously impossible. This shift towards “truly owning your loyalty” as Kaczynski puts it, transforms the dynamic between brands and their communities, making the relationship more reciprocal. The optionality that NFTs offer, enabling community members to buy, sell, or hold, empowers consumers and adds a new layer of value to their interaction with brands.

As companies like Starbucks pave the way with initiatives like Starbucks Odyssey, it becomes increasingly clear that NFTs are more than just digital collectibles; they are a means to build and nurture communities, enhance brand loyalty, and redefine consumer engagement. In an era where authenticity and personal connection are prized, NFTs offer brands a novel approach to reach out to their audiences, promising a future where loyalty is not just rewarded but cherished and celebrated. As the narrative around NFTs continues to evolve, their potential to shape the landscape of brand loyalty and community building is undeniable, heralding a new chapter in the intersection of technology, business, and social connectivity.



BluShark Media

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