Foresight 18: Generation Alpha’s impact on retail + how Discord is becoming the go-to platform for promoting NFT projects
A bi-weekly newsletter diving into the concepts, people and brands shaping the future of retail, entertainment and connectivity.
Welcome back to Foresight!
This week we’re talking about how Generation Alpha is impacting the next era of retail—think gender-neutral collections, inclusivity, and sustainability. Certainly taking notes from their older Gen-Z sibling. We’re also discussing Discord (for the first time!) and how the platform has become a fundamental component of marketing strategies for brands exploring NFT projects.
The first article shared in What I’m Reading is a must-read for learning about how NFTs are making their way into physical stores. Serving as a way to educate audiences on these digital assets, it’s a very dynamic retail experience.
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & FORWARD-THINKING PERSPECTIVES
Generation Alpha and the next era of retail
Generation Alpha, the younger sibling of Gen-Z, is already making an impact in the retail world and paving the way for the future. Solidifying the fundamental retail ethics that Gen-Z initiated, here are a few ways this generation is setting the stage for what’s next in retail.
Gender-neutral products and collections are slowly becoming the norm as brands and retailers ditch traditional gender categories, with the most growth seen in children and kids’ lines. In October, California became the first US state to implement genderless retail due to a new law requiring large stores to have gender-neutral departments for childcare and toys.
Expansion of offerings catering to a variety of physical and mental abilities is also on the up. JCPenney launched children’s clothing with adaptive features last year and Nike recently launched hands-free sneakers and adaptive clothing for kids. Last year, Headspace, Sesame Street, and Penguin Random House came together to create Monster Meditation, a book series to “help children learn the fundamentals of mindfulness, meditation, and social and emotional learning.”
To appeal to younger generations, as well as the changing mindset of parents, toy brands are leaning into environmentally responsible initiatives. In 2021, Mattel announced a recycling program for old products and Lego debuted a prototype brick made from recycled plastic.
The gateway to Web 3.0 helping brands create hype and find niche audiences
The six-year-old platform that began with gamer chatrooms, Discord, has become a critical element for brands launching and exploring NFT projects—even more so than Instagram and TikTok. Quoted as the “heart and soul of an NFT project,” the platform is its own ecosystem, “like Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn all wrapped into one, with 24/7 engagement from people all around the world.” Discord doesn’t allow access without a link invitation to enter each space, or server as it's referred to on the platform. It’s become a central promoter for brands’ NFT projects with more than 150 million monthly active users and over 19 million servers active weekly.
Gucci recently shared an invite via Twitter to its first Discord server where the 20,000 members of its Gucci Vault Discord obtain “special roles” and are the first to access future NFT-centred channels. There were 28,000 members after only two days. EVP new businesses and Gucci Vault CEO Nicolas Oudinot, says that “opening a server on Discord dedicated to its online concept store Gucci Vault means allowing everyone from creators to collectors to the purely curious to join the conversation on metaverse.” Other brands like Adidas, Nars, Sephora, and StockX have all used Discord to house recently launched NFT projects.
Amanda Cassatt, CEO of Serotonin, a marketing firm and venture studio helping luxury brands enter the metaverse says, “leveraging Discord is influencer marketing in Web 3.0. Brands that are trying to build a community understand the value of building relationships within these gated communities because the existing communities are the ones that seed the new ones.” Creating a brands’ own space on Discord allows them to captivate NFT enthusiasts while sharing current projects with existing fans due to the nature of the platforms’ fast-paced and collaborative communication. “It’s a natural forum for NFT and metaverse projects, which operate collaboratively and with community feedback,” says Rick Ling, group product manager. Don’t expect Discord to become the next Instagram according to experts, however, it’s an important and powerful tool for finding and connecting with loyal followers while test-driving Web 3.0 initiatives. As for implementing this platform into strategies, it may be wise to leave a typical marketing mindset behind. “When luxury brands say they want to enter into Web 3.0 or launch an NFT and they don’t have Discord even up, that pretty much goes against what Web 3.0 stands for, which is community,” George Yang, founder of Cult & Rain, a luxury sneaker startup exploring NFT projects. “Different brands will try to get into the NFT space but probably a majority will fail because they don't have the community behind it. And you might get one hit on that. But, long-term, if you aren’t home-grown and you don't have the community behind you, it will be really challenging for a lot of the big brands.”