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How NFTs are Adding Flavor to F&B

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, have taken over the world. From fashion to real estate, virtually every business is exploring ways to utilize this new-ish digital asset. The food and beverage industry, always on the hunt for new marketing channels and publicity, certainly isn’t immune.

These digital assets are a promising avenue for products, brand promotion, and customer relationship management and have proven to be a buzzworthy venture for many companies. So far, major food brands like Burger King, Taco Bell, Glenfiddich, and Bud Light have ventured into the space by incorporating them into promotional campaigns and loyalty programs or selling them as extensions of new product lines.

We, however, really wanted to explore the newer players colliding the worlds of food and NFTs in different ways. The food art, virtual restaurants, and membership programs created by NFT artists and technology companies born from the blockchain that aims to blur the lines between F&B and technology and appeal to the audiences of both these categories.

Our analysis of these new NFT ventures began on Twitter, as we found that to be the most common social media platform where conversations around this topic were taking place. We then pulled the profiles of five major NFT food-related projects: Crypto Baristas, Crypto Food Hall, Fast Food Punks, Bored Breakfast Club, and Flyfish Club, using our Culture AI to find out how they are promoting themselves and connecting with their consumers.

The connection with food for each of these projects varies in different ways. Crypto Baristas and Crypto Food Hall sell digital characters that benefit real-life coffee industry partners, and independent restaurants, Bored Breakfast Club and Flyfish Club offers membership where their communities can access exclusive F&B events and subscription services, while Fast Food Punks is directly influenced by the uniforms of fast food joints, an acknowledgment of how food is a major part of pop culture.

With Millennials and Gen Zs making up the largest chunk of those interested in NFTs, many of these projects target their intended audience by using texting language, like ‘gm’, ‘irl’, and ‘congrats’, as well as emojis (☕, 🍔, 🎉 and 🔥) to better relate with them. Their platforms also make use of popular memes and cultural references in their Twitter posts.

These new players’ visual cues are also inspired by trends that they believe would resonate with these generations. Nostalgia and escapism have been big themes over the last few tumultuous years, which has inevitably influenced art, specifically digital art. Fast Food Punks’ characters take inspiration from fast food chains and borrows from the pixelated aesthetic of classic video games, reminding people of the things they enjoyed in their childhoods. While the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club’s project Bored Breakfast Club is heavily inspired by youth culture, using fonts influenced by graffiti writing and dressing their ape characters in streetwear.

While everyone has heard of NFTs, people still seem to be unsure of what they are and how to begin, with searches for ‘NFT meaning’, ‘NFT definition’ and ‘Where to Buy NFTs’ growing 121% on average in the past year. The challenge then, for many NFT projects is to help them take the first step into this space.

Within the food NFT projects we reviewed, some of the top phrases our AI tool detected were “congrats”, “winner” and “free coffee”, which showed us that many of them host giveaways of both virtual and tangible items. Crypto Barista offered products from their specialty coffee partners as prizes, while Bored Breakfast Club gifted out their NFTs, essentially handing new users an opportunity to get started. Some also hold IRL events, which has the benefits of letting their audience experience something physical, as well as allowing them to network and connect with industry members. The goal is to ultimately ease their hesitancy and educate them on their products, in order to convert them into consumers.

Building community is also a big part of their brands and how they attract consumers. Their Twitter profiles post a lot of user-generated content, as well as photos of their consumers and people bonding over their interests. In fact, three of the top emotions that our Culture AI detected from the images on their profiles are affiliation, affection, and happiness, which emphasizes the message that by buying into the product, they are also being welcomed into this exclusive, like-minded group of people.

There’s no denying that NFTs are the “it” item of the digital assets world, and everyone from Snoop Dogg to Mark Cuban are investing in them, which has turned obtaining NFTs into somewhat of a status symbol, like getting the latest luxury watch, rare sneakers or a crazy expensive burger.

Like all status symbols, once obtained, they are meant to be shown off, so consumers are displaying and utilizing their assets in both the virtual and physical world. Fast Food Punks sells real-life merchandise like baseball hats and T-shirts branded with their NFT art, and Bored Breakfast Clubs’ social media platform features dozens of photos of coffee art featuring their logo and characters, while Flyfish Club takes it a step further by offering memberships that give you exclusive access to their NFT dining club and other private, in-person events like boat parties, wine tastings and virtual cooking.

Like most responsible businesses today, most of these NFT projects have a charity element to it as well. Non-profit organizations have had to evolve and familiarise themselves with alternative donations, including cryptocurrency. NFTs offer the chance for them to offer a tangible asset to be bought by donors, instead of just asking for monetary donations.

Many of these food NFT projects are helping them reach a wider audience by lending their platform and products to these charities while scoring some good publicity for themselves. In 2021, Fast Food Punks made headlines for raising almost six hundred thousand dollars for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. Crypto Barista uses sales of its virtual assets to strengthen their sustainability efforts and works directly with coffee-growing communities in Honduras to establish transparent production and prices.

Despite these projects being about food, there seems to be a lack of images or discussions about the topic itself on their social media platforms. This could be due to some of them not having officially launched yet, like Flyfish club, but these projects do seem to focus more on the art and storyline of their NFTs. Fast Food Punks references iconic branding, while Crypto Baristas gives little background stories to each of their characters and discusses their commitment to sustainable practices. Therefore, food NFT projects may not be targeting people who simply enjoy food, but rather are engaged with the food industry and want to advance the way food is made.

It’s still early days for the intersection of food and NFTs and the metaverse, or “foodverse” as it’s otherwise known, but that means there’s always something new happening within the space. Aside from digitizing food items, NFTs are being used to complement the brand, the same way that the decor of a restaurant or a story of a brand currently does. They provide meaning to the food experience and help serve a bigger purpose, be it making processes more sustainable or helping to transform the way we see and interact with it.

Write to anurag.banerjee@quilt.ai to learn about AI-powered market research and the latest trends.

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