The world of luxury brands is expanding rapidly into digital, driven by the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital proofs of authenticity. Luxury brands are making their play to reach new audiences in digital by tying their upmarket physical products to purely digital services.
Glenfiddich was the first single-malt whisky to be bottled. Now it’s attempting to recreate that spirit of innovation and commercial nous with the launch of a new series of whisky tied to NFTs. In collaboration with NFT platform BlockBar, the liquor brand is launching a series of 15 limited-edition NFTs, each of which corresponds to a physical bottle of a 46-year-old single malt whisky.
The NFT acts as both proof of ownership and authenticity of the physical bottles, which are held on the purchaser’s behalf in BlockBar’s Singapore facility. After purchase the owner can either choose to hold the NFT for potential resale, or cash in the NFT to receive the physical item itself. If the owner chooses the latter, the NFT itself is then ‘burned.’
Will Peacock is global luxury director at William Grant & Sons, owners of the Glenfiddich brand. He believes that there is significant opportunity for luxury products to discover new audiences through the use of NFTs. “We hope to reach a new audience of digital-savvy investors who are interested in investing in whisky. We also hope this is of interest to our loyal existing rare spirits collectors, who will appreciate the rarity of this Glenfiddich whisky. Finally we think this might be of interest to crypto skeptics as they might see a benefit of purchasing an NFT with a redeemable physical bottle of rare whisky directly from our brand, which they recognize and trust.”
He does, however, note that the success of the NFT is tied to the inherent value perception of the physical item. To that end he says it is intended to be additive to the existing experience with Glenfiddich. “Glenfiddich produces whiskies that are handcrafted to be enjoyed, so we will always offer an IRL experience enhanced by the benefits of the NFT in this case. We believe that the benefits that NFTs offer are an added experience and opportunities to the IRL product, for example we can offer expert advice, virtual distillery tours and access to exclusive offers. We see these two intrinsically complementing each other, allowing us to offer a better consumer experience.”
Earlier this year Gucci also experimented with NFTs, in addition to launching a line of digital fashion items across a number of platforms. Hendrick’s Gin also launched a range of NFT-backed art, though it was not tied to any physical liquor as the Glenfiddich launch is. It speaks to an industry looking to discover new audiences that might never have been enticed by the physical items.
The Glenfiddich whiskies and NFTs are set to be marketed across its existing mailing lists and channels – though one advantage of the use of NFTs is the ability to develop longer relationships with collectors and consumers.
William Grant & Sons chief commercial officer Doug Bagley said: “Glenfiddich continues to push boundaries in whisky innovation and this mindset transcends to those we partner with. We are proud to be the first luxury spirits brand to be available on BlockBar at the time of the launch. BlockBar brings a heightened level of authenticity to our brand via its proprietary NFT platform and creates an elite club of distinguished collectors with whom we’re excited to build long-term relationships.”
As the NFT space matures and we see new platforms develop, luxury brands stand to gain from offering tokens of authenticity to their consumers. By doing so they develop relationships with audiences that extend long after the purchase.