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Crypto offers a new way to power tried-and-true brand loyalty
Bakkt is working with brands to stand up rewards programs using crypto.
Cryptocurrency. NFTs. Web3.
These emerging technologies all hold the promise of unlocking new ways for brands and retailers to reach consumers, and build relationships over time.
Yet for professionals who work at the firms that sell goods, these technologies can be difficult to understand, and new concepts tend to show up frequently. After the pandemic’s digital boom, many people may understand that NFTs are one-of-a-kind digital tokens on a blockchain that are used to create ownership of a particular piece of media. But to put them to use, brands also have to understand tokengating, which is used to create tiers of access to a reward or experience.
But it’s not always required to understand all of the ins and outs of technology first. Rather, professionals must consider how they want to use it.
The concepts above are all being applied to a time-honored practice of commerce: Loyalty. From green shield stamps to grocery store clubs, retailers have long sought to create programs that provided shoppers with perks so that they identify with brands beyond the items they purchase, and increase the likelihood that they'll return.
“At the end of the day, the idea that [retailers] want to engage customers and maintain loyalty is not new,” Nancy Gordon, chief product officer for loyalty and rewards at Bakkt, a publicly traded digital asset platform, said from the floor of the NRF Big Show 2023. “What’s new is the technology.”
For Bakkt, crypto and loyalty go hand-in-hand. The platform employs the decentralized form of currency to help brands offer programs that provide rewards or create unique experiences for consumers.
Understanding how it all works together doesn’t require a deep knowledge of crypto. Rather, consider another concept that retailers have long embraced: rewards. In-person retail long revolved around driving people to the store. In a world of digital commerce, engagement with a brand can happen across many different touchpoints. Crypto enables this to happen.
“Your customers have lives outside of you, so therefore, one way to engage them is you reward them based upon the behaviors that they take with you. But that reward itself could be more flexible than just something that's in store,” Gordon said. “[It could be] catered towards your existing customer set or a core group of customers or communities. And if you really think about what they're interested in and opening up that funnel to allow them to do things with any currency that they may have collected, it winds up being an accelerator.”
Rewards are part of a brand experience. So there are advantages to being a facilitator, even if the end result isn’t a purchase from your brand. This cross-pollination is becoming more evident throughout the consumer economy. For instance, Lyft passengers can now earn Delta miles.
For example, a number of brands and retailers work with Bakkt to run a program for brands that allows customers to use loyalty currency to pay for Apple products.
Bakkt Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Mark Elliot said it's an example of a new model emerging for a rewards program where “I physically went to a store, and then I digitally bought something online from another brand, and the combo of those two unlocks something else."
Crypto makes it easier not only to pay for the item using reward currency, but also for brands to verify that consumers took the necessary steps.
"You could either do all the heavy lifting of integrating those two companies’ CRM systems, which is really, really hard and expensive. Or, the token is the proof that the customer did the number of things they needed to do across multiple brands to reach some new level of status or new experience or access something," Elliot said.
In the end, technology advances reduce complexity and create experiences that move across mediums. That holds true for crypto, just as it has with each new advance over time.
Trending in Operations
Nike shifts digital leaders; Glossier levels up the C-suite
On the Move has updates from Allbirds, Stitch Fix, GrubHub and PVH Corp.
This week, key executive roles at GrubHub, Nike and Gap. Inc. are seeing change, while CFO seats continue to shuffle across retail and consumer goods. Plus, PVH Corp. is welcoming a communications chief as it advances digital commerce.
GrubHub CEO steps down
Adam Dewitt is stepping down as CEO of GrubHub. A cofounder of the online delivery platform, Dewitt served in key leadership roles over 11 years, and rose to the CEO role in 2021 following the company’s acquisition by Just Eat Takeaway.
With the move, Howard Migdal will assume the CEO role in May. Migdal is currently CEO of Just Eat Takeaway Canadian subsidiary SkipTheDishes. In turn, SkipTheDishes SVP of Growth and Restaurant Success was appointed interim CEO of SkipTheDishes.
Executive departures at Gap Inc.
With its most recent earnings report, Gap Inc. announced that a pair of executives will be leaving the company. They are as follows:
- Asheesh Saksena will depart, as his current role of chief growth officer for Gap Inc. is being eliminated.
- Mary Beth Laughton, who serves as CEO of Athleta, will be departing the company.
- Sheila Peters, chief people officer, will leave the company at the end of the year.
The moves come as Gap pursues cost savings by “increasing spans of control and decreasing management layers to improve quality and speed of decision making, as well as creating a consistent organizational structure across all four brands focused on elevating its product and customer experience across all channels,” the company reported. For fiscal year 2022, Gap reported a net sales decline of 6% year-over-year, and an adjusted net loss of $145 million.
Nike makes key leadership appointments
Nike made a series of leadership moves in support of its digitally-focused strategy, called Consumer Direct Acceleration. The appointments are as follows:
- Amy Montagne will assume the role of VP/GM of women’s. An 18-year Nike veteran, Montagne currently serves as VP/GM of Asia-Pacific-Latin America and has held a variety of VP and leadership roles.
- Cathy Sparks, currently VP of Nike Direct, will assume the role of VP/GM of Asia Pacific-Latin America. A 25-year veteran of Nike, Sparks has led the execution of CDA.
- Whitney Malkiel, the VP/GM of women’s decided to leave the company after 25 years, according to Nike.
Campbell Soup gets new CFO
Carrie Anderson. (Courtesy photo)
Campbell Soup Company’s recent earnings call had a new voice on the line. Carrie Anderson joined the CPG as chief financial officer on Feb. 6.
Anderson was previously CFO of medical technology company Integra LifeSciences, and also spent seven years with the Dover Corporation.
Anderson succeeded Mick Beekhuizen, who moved to the role of president of meals and beverages at Campbell’s in November.
Glossier makes leadership appointments
On the heels of entering Sephora stores, beauty brand Glossier announced a series of promotions and hires in the C-suite. The moves are as follows:
- Marie Suter was promoted to chief creative director. Suter joined Glossier in 2018, and designed the brand's gondola that carries its products in stores.
- Kleo Mack was promoted to chief marketing officer. Mack joined two years ago from L'Oréal, and built a team focused on brand, product, influencer, omnichannel marketing and communications.
- Chitra Balireddi is joining Glossier as chief commercial officer, overseeing the business across ecommerce, wholesale and retail. Balireddi brings experience from Chanel and The Boston Consulting Group.
Roku hires Stitch Fix CFO
Dan Jedda will be joining Roku as chief financial officer in May. With the move, Jedda will be leaving Stitch Fix as chief financial officer in April. He joined Stitch Fix in 2020, and previously spent 15 years at Amazon.
Jedda will be succeeded by David Aufderhaar, who is currently SVP of Finance at the company.
The move comes on the heels of founder Katrina Lake stepping back into the CEO role of the company, and announcing that the company will refocus on personalized styling, as opposed to diversifying into areas that allowed consumers to select items one at a time. Stitch Fix reported a net revenue decrease of 20% year-over-year for the most recent quarter.
CFO change at Allbirds
Annie Mitchell will become chief financial officer of Allbirds, effective April 24.
Mitchell is set to join the footwear brand from Gymshark, where she served as VP of finance and insights. She previously served as CFO for adidas North America as part of a 10-year stint at the apparel company.
With the move, Mike Bufano is stepping down as CFO of the company. Leaders said he was a key part of the company’s 2021 IPO. Bufano will remain with the company through mid-May amid the transition.
PVH Corp. names communications chief
Amber (McCasland) McCann is joining PVH Corp. as EVP and chief communications officer.
McCann comes to the Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein parent from Poshmark, where she served as VP of global brand and communications through its 2021 IPO and recent acquisition by Korean internet giant Naver. She previously spent 10 years at Levi Strauss & Co.
The appointment comes as PVH is undergoing a transformation strategy, called PVH+, that is designed to elevate digital commerce and center the consumer.