What We Can Learn From Mainstream Brands Adopting Crypto

Raji Kalra
4 min readSep 16, 2022


Peopletail is a Shopify app that partners with small businesses to help them easily offer crypto and cashback rewards to their customers.

2021 was a hallmark year for mainstream attention on crypto. The biggest brands and influencers were talking about their crypto investments and launching their own NFT collections. Even if you were completely unfamiliar to the industry, it was almost impossible to not have heard about Elon Musk and ‘meme coins’. It may have seemed silly at the time, but Musk’s stunt to accept Dogecoin at Tesla played a big hand in sparking more buzz in the already brewing space.

Businesses like Tesla accepting crypto payments is just one way brands have been adopting this new, innovative asset. Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have also become a wildly popular medium for brands to experiment with and attract crypto-savvy customers. Nike went as far as to acquire an NFT sneaker startup, RTFKT to help launch their own Nike NFT collection. Within a few months, Nike’s NFT sales revenue reached $185 million, making them the top earning brand to launch an NFT collection, followed by top brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Tiffany and Gucci.

What about small businesses? How can they also be part of this wave of early adopters and avoid getting left behind? Luckily, there is a lot we can learn from mass-market players and their crypto strategies to help act as a blueprint for your small business.

1. Interested consumers need more ways to earn crypto

A lot of the crypto use cases we see from mainstream brands are targeted towards crypto-native consumers. Accepting crypto payments and selling digital NFTs requires the consumer to already own crypto and have the knowledge and experience to participate. However, there is a much larger population of people who are interested in crypto, but just need help onboarding.

Starbucks is spearheading this gap in the market by unveiling their plans to incorporate NFTs into their existing Starbucks Rewards program. What we know so far is that loyalty members can earn NFTs by completing various coffee-related activities or challenges. This presents a fun new way for customers to engage with the cult coffee brand, without necessarily needing any crypto knowledge or even purchasing Starbucks coffee.

What’s even more attractive about this strategy is that it’s bear market resistant. The crypto market is known for its volatility, but this strategy offers no risk for consumers to earn their first crypto or stack up on more coins. We expect more brands to move towards this direction of making their crypto programs more accessible to all and reach a wider audience of crypto-curious.

2. Businesses need a crypto partner

Nike acquiring the NFT firm is just one example of finding a crypto partner. Most businesses don’t have to go to that extent, but finding a partner service or infrastructure platform to operationally integrate crypto into your business is needed.

Burger King partnered with Robinhood to give crypto-back rewards to customers who purchased a meal over $5. This partnership gave customers an accessible way to receive free crypto rewards from Burger King, without needing to have an existing crypto wallet before. As a result, Burger King saw a 30% increase in downloads for their app.

It’s important for businesses to find the right partner that can help operationalize and simplify launching a crypto program. The partners will act as the bridge between traditional businesses and the world of crypto. Luckily today, there is a whole market of platform partners that can fill the gaps that your business may need, like crypto wallet providers, liquidity partners and risk and fraud detectors.

3. Crypto programs are long-term experiments

It’s clear that there are monetary business returns for brands choosing to incorporate crypto. However, it can also seem like crypto is just a trendy, passing fad that businesses are leveraging to attract Gen-Z and millennial consumers. Though that may be true, behind the hype also lies innovative use cases to introduce new experiences and deepen engagement with loyal customers.

These major brands experimenting with crypto right now have the foresight to see the growing dominance of digital assets in the future of commerce and society. That’s why they are investing in crypto campaigns and promotions because they understand the first-mover advantage.

Clinique launched a campaign of limited-edition NFTs that their loyalty members could have a chance to win. To enter, all they would have to do is share their stories on social media. This was clearly a brand awareness campaign for Clinique, but also an experiment to gather valuable information and data on customer behaviour and interaction with crypto.

So when mainstream brands are coming up with their crypto programs, they’re not just thinking about how it will help their business revenue today, but also how it will help them stay ahead of competition in the near future.

How can small businesses build a crypto strategy?

Despite how it may seem, starting a crypto strategy for your business doesn’t have to require a dedicated team or large amounts of resources. Though mainstream brands like to go big with their splashy crypto campaigns and marketing tactics, as a small business, you can always start small, like simply offering crypto rewards.

Peopletail is a Shopify app that partners with small businesses to help them easily offer crypto and cashback rewards to their customers. It’s completely free for businesses and provides an easy-to-use platform to create promotions and issue crypto-back. For merchants, it’s a low-risk and low-investment way to attract and incentive new and existing customers. They take the complexity out of crypto by handling the regulation, compliance and facilitation of transactions. For customers, there is also no-risk to participate and earn free crypto-back on purchases.

Launching a crypto program doesn’t have to be intimidating. As a small business, you too can become an early adopter. If there is one thing that we can learn from mainstream brands adopting crypto is that starting and experimenting now is what’s most important.