Using Blockchain to Your Advantage
Blockchain is an undeniable force in FinTech, disrupting traditional payment services and facilitating the rise of cryptocurrencies. However, as shown time and time again, blockchain technology has applications well beyond finance. Trade, security, property, event ticketing, music, healthcare and even voting have all benefited from the decentralised software, and no doubt other industries will be added to the list soon. However, one sector which seems to have been overlooked by blockchain commentators is marketing. Despite this, blockchain is already being deployed as a marketing tool by influential businesses. So, how can marketing teams use the technology to their advantage, and how will this influence marketing as a whole?
Another link in the blockchain
Marketing and advertising might not seem like an obvious choice for blockchain capabilities. Many people, particularly those in the millennial generation, are generally apathetic to adverts and dismiss them as desperate pleas for money. This, ironically, is exactly why blockchain could be the saving grace of marketing teams. Instead of claiming that a product is responsibly sourced, blockchain verification could be used by advertisers to prove its origins. Take grocery shopping, for example. Increasing knowledge about dietary requirements has encouraged consumers to read the packets of the food that they buy in more detail. Of course, it’s difficult to know if what you’re eating is really what it says on the pack. Blockchain could provide a way around this uncertainty by tracing the movement of a product and then encoding this information into the barcode. This type of supply chain monitoring could have averted the infamous horse meat scandal that damaged Tesco’s reputation back in 2013. In fact, Walmart has now partnered with IBM to undertake a supply chain verification project for pork. Obviously, the possibilities go much further than groceries. Any item could be tracked and verified in this way. Designer brands, for example, could find this particularly useful for ensuring the authenticity of products.
How will blockchain technologies disrupt marketing?
Blockchain has various different disruptive advantages for marketers. First of all, it could improve the safety of data storage and sharing. When handling information about consumers, this is particularly important. Supply chain monitoring could also improve the credibility of products, making life easier for marketers by giving them more knowledge about what they’re trying to sell. Likewise, it will enable businesses to make sure their supply chains are legitimate and trustworthy, which will in turn deliver more accurate information to consumers. Knowing the exact origins of a product could encourage businesses and customers to invest in responsibly sourced goods, supporting sustainability. The availability of in depth product information is also likely to increase transparency within the supply chain, and improve the relationship between buyers and suppliers. The openness of data could even help businesses to comply with product quality regulations. On the one hand, if blockchain can cope with the volume of information, it could transform marketing for the better. On the other hand, this may prove problematic for companies. In order to meet demand for responsibly sources goods, they may need to break long established partnerships and find new suppliers – which is far easier said than done. Additionally, any business that doesn’t use blockchain to prove the authenticity of quality of their products could be viewed as dishonest.
Marketers need to realise the potential of blockchain technologies and take advantage of them. The software has the potential to create honesty within an industry that is generally viewed as slyly persuasive, opening up the supply chain and telling customers the exact details of any product. Of course, there are barriers to the application of blockchain. The technology has recently struggled to prove it can cope with mass usership, and the hype seems to be exceeding reality. Even so, trials like the one set up by Walmart demonstrate that there is a place for blockchain within marketing and advertising. The question is, do marketers really want consumers to know exactly what they’re buying?
What other barriers are there to blockchain adoption within marketing? How far do consumers value traceability? Could data transparency prove more problematic or positive for marketers? Comment below with your thoughts.