Digital Transformation Adtech Brand Strategy

42% of the public have no idea what an NFT is, finds YouGov

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By Chris Sutcliffe | Senior reporter

February 23, 2022 | 6 min read

Brands are ploughing ahead with investment in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), from minting their own to developing metaverse spaces. But when it comes to the UK public the impact of NFTs appears far less positive, from their awareness of the tech to how they feel about branded NFTs. In fact, far from offering new opportunities to develop a long-term relationship with mainstream audiences, the majority of the UK public are more likely to feel negatively about brands selling NFTs.

bored ape

The UK public is not a fan of the Bored Ape applications of NFTs

Research from YouGov has found that overall, if a company started offering NFTs, 27% of respondents would feel ‘much less favorable,’ and a further 16% would feel slightly less favorable. That compares to only 1% of respondents who would feel much more favorable, suggesting that the vast majority of the subsection of the public who know what NFTs are have negative associations with the technology.

That subsection is also in the minority: a majority have heard of them (56%), but not that many are confident they know what an NFT is. Fully 42% of the public have never heard of NFTs; 25% have heard of them and know what they are; 20% have heard the term being used but aren’t sure what it means; and 11% have heard the term but have no idea what it means.

Jules Newby, sector head of agencies and media, EMEA & APAC, YouGov, says: “As most people aren’t certain what NFTs are, even if they have heard of them, there is certainly room for companies to communicate about NFTs more effectively if they do choose to offer them.

“But there is a large contingent who already think they’re bad as investments, don’t like them as artwork, and [think they are] a detriment, rather than an asset, to any company they might buy from. Organizations offering NFTs may make money off the consumers who purchase these tokens, but they also risk alienating the proportion of consumers who do not like or trust them.”

Worse still for the NFT-based companies, the majority of the public believe that their current iteration is unappealing and a worse investment than physical items. Per the research 38% of the public have seen NFT artworks such as the Bored Ape or CryptoPunks collection, and of this sub-group only 11% like them. Beyond that just 5% of those who have heard of NFTs think they’re a good investment, while 55% say the exact opposite.

Preaching to the unconverted

It is a testament to how difficult NFTs are to market. While brands such as Burberry, Louis Vuitton and Playboy have all launched NFTs, the vast majority of tokens on the market are low-value, high-volume and associated with an image. It is that idea that NFTs are nothing more than a collectible – and unappealing ones at that if the YouGov research is correct – which brands are having to run up against when marketing NFTs.

Morten Grubak is global executive creative director at Virtue, the Vice-backed agency responsible for selling Coca-Cola-branded NFTs for over $575,000. He has previously told The Drum that the use of NFTs in brand marketing is being polluted by brands doing it just for the sake of it, rather than adding something to the community it is aimed at.

“Creating NFTs is not really the hardest part. It’s about doing it on the terms on which the community is functioning, so teaming up with [avatar company] Tafi was a huge thing while creating the Coca-Cola project,” he said.

“Also, we wanted to make sure we didn’t just do a huge collection. Back then, there was a huge conversation around the environmental impact of doing an NFT, which was turning everything upside down. So we advised Coca-Cola to just do it very small.”

This YouGov research is potentially validation of his exhortation that the industry approaches NFTs with scarcity and utility in mind. Currently the majority of the public do not see a practical benefit to the tokens or underlying technology, and by rushing in brands risk compounding that perception.

YouGov surveyed 2,000 members of the public on NFTs for the report.

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