How Web3 will force brands to redefine value for customers

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As you all know, I have been deeply fascinated by the rising phenomenon of Web3 and one of the things I have come to realize in the past weeks, is that it will definitely force brands to redefine the amount of value that they owe to customers.

In the good old days, brands offered products and services in return for money. Recently, that has started to change: this straightforward exchange is often no longer enough, as I discussed in my last book ‘The Offer You Can’t Refuse’. Customers have started to expect value for their lives and value for the world too. For the moment, companies which are answering to that need are ‘just’ creating a competitive edge for themselves, though I do believe that this will become the New Normal of CX at one point.

And that’s where the Web3 phenomenon comes in. What I believe that it might accelerate, is that companies simply won’t have any other choice but to create extra value (on top of product or service) because it will trigger a huge shift in the power relation between the brand and the consumer. And the reason is data, which used to lie in the hands of companies, but will be granted back to the user with Web3: the customer will be able to choose if brands use their data. Or if they can’t.

I believe that this will trigger major changes in the way companies sell their offering or how they organize their marketing.

The adage of “give us your data and in return, we’ll suggest awesome products and service for you to buy” will no longer be enough. In fact, the value that companies get from that data is currently a lot bigger than that for the consumer. And that’s why I firmly believe that companies will need to boost the advantages that they offer the consumer – in many different ways – if they still want to receive that data to use for marketing, optimization or other processes.

These could be some cases:

This one ties perfectly in with my ‘Partner in Life’ model from The Offer You Can’t Refuse. It’s a great way to expand value beyond the traditional offering. It’s about going beyond the customer journey, and catering to the life journey of your customer. Which aspects in their lives create negative or positive energy? What things cost them too much effort? If you can provide answers to these questions, you can optimize your emotional relationship with your customers.

A great example in my book is that of the Samsung fridge which scans its contents to see which products it contains. This information is linked to a database with recipes which allows the fridge to suggest particular meals, based on the ingredients on its shelves. If one or two of the ingredients for a particular recipe are missing, the fridge automatically adds them to your next shopping list. In this way, the fridge owner is assisted to prepare the family menu for the following day. At the same time, the fridge also has the ability to select the ingredients that are nearest to their expiry date, so that these can be used before it is too late. The fridge is a partner both in setting the family diet and in reducing expensive and environmentally unfriendly food wastage.

This is a great way of convincing consumers to share the data that they will now own in the Web3 age. Why? Because it increases the value for both parties: brand and consumer.

Another model from The Offer You Can’t Refuse is that of “Saving the world”. This is about companies taking their responsibility to do good for society as a whole. Every company has strengths that it can use to create a societal and environmental added value. They will need to search for concrete solutions and contributions that will allow their company to make a truly tangible impact.

Recently, I’ve been fascinated to see how the influence zone of a brand or an organization is expanding. The past decades most organizations were focused on the influence sphere of their own company: their own organization, processes, employees, products and their industry. Only a very small minority spent time acting upon the issues and challenges that the world was facing. You see that this is completely changing today, especially with events like pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Companies are no longer just monitoring what’s happening in the world but are playing an active and influential part in it. And you see an increased number of customers expecting organizations to become part of the solution and actively influence every part of society, not just their own company and industry.

This broader contextual approach too, could be an incentive to convince Web3 users to share their data if they can in that way help companies to fight deadly diseases, reduce carbon emissions or waste, better manage cities, fight inequality etc.

This is probably the most straightforward exchange of value for data: companies might offer micropayment to users in return for their data. This could for instance work in R&D environments where brands need a huge amount of personal data so that they can create useful solutions. Examples could be pharma companies performing research into certain genetic or other diseases. Or governments of smart cities looking for ways to better optimize their architecture and city planning.

This approach will probably work better combined with one or two of the models above: if the consumer feels like (s)he might not just get financial value in return for data but personal, social or environmental value too.

As you may know, I’m very excited about what NFTs can mean for customer engagement and loyalty by creating a shared interest for the customer. It could create new models of customer loyalty and even entirely new direct to consumer business models. Imagine that a very talented singer does not succeed in finding a record deal, even if (s)he has a large following on TikTok. Well, (s)he could create a first album in the form of an NFT. The fantastic thing about that is that early fans could  also get access to part of the revenues through a smart contract in this NFT. If you think that in the old world, 90% of the value went to the record company and only 10% to the creative talent, this sharing of value is pretty clever. Especially if you realize that this way early fans become super loyal ambassadors and shareholders with a shared interest. Just imagine how much they could gain if that singer was someone like Ed Sheeran or Rihanna. If the brand wins, the customer wins. I really love that.

This one is of course different to the former three, because it’s not exactly a way to convince consumers to share data. But, like the examples above, it is a great way of creating more value than was possible in the old world of Web2.

I’m always most excited where I see certain trends converging into something that’s a lot bigger than the sum of their parts and this could be one of those. There’s a huge personal, societal and environmental need for brands to come up with solutions to some very challenging, urgent and complex problems. And at the same time, you see this new type of internet approach that is going to disrupt the data models (be it monetization, optimization or even purely marketing) of many companies and where they will need to come up with solutions that balance out the value – for them ànd the customer – in a way that Web2 had pretty much lost. And when both converge, problem and opportunity might very well meet in a very interesting way.

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