Loyalty as currency: #blockchain meets @taylorswift13 meets @BurgerKing #loyalty

Loyalty is really about customer control. It’s about crafting, controlling and defining the conversation. The most control of customer loyalty the customer actually has is by leaving and going to another brand.

Loyalty plus Currency is about controlling the customer conversation, not just about whether you can interact in certain ways with the brand but with the addition of how the customer can buy with you, that’s where there’s power.

Taylor Swift and Ticketmaster

In the last few days Taylor Swift has come under fire from some quarters about rewarding loyal fans with access to tickets to concerts. Plain and simple to put the tickets into the hands of fans, not the ticket touts or bots.

The first stage of loyalty, measure the feedback from the customer. Rewards are based on interaction with the brand. With no way of measuring the conversation (whether that’s by a loyalty card at the point of sale, social media or coupons doesn’t really matter, what matters is that it’s traceable and measurable).

I think the criticism from the media and other bands is too harsh, I see where the angle is in all of this. If customers get annoyed with the brand (Taylor Swift) when it’s outside of the brand’s control, in this case touts and bots, then it harms the brand and causes long term value damage between the customer and the brand.

The partnership with Ticketmaster changes that, the vendor does the monitoring and it’s case of tying up the customer to the loyalty (social media) and a determining factor on whether that customer is loyal or not. If the scoring is good then you can book a ticket, if not then you move down the priority queue. Basically if you can show loyalty to the brand, the brand will be loyal back.

It’s not perfect but it’s an improvement.

There is nothing new here. It’s just that it’s Taylor Swift so it’ll come under the media microscope. Personally, I think it’s a perfect move under the circumstances. Any artist wants to perform to true fans of their work, not those merely entitled by the size of their wallets.

The Tout Problem

In days gone by counterfeit concert tickets were easy got. I never knew they existed until I went to see my first proper gig in 1986 when I saw Level 42 at the Manchester Apollo (Mike Lindup lost his voice that night but it left it’s mark that I’m still a musician thirty years later).

So, these touts were hanging around the front doors selling dodgy tickets, no one bats an eyelid. Some chance it…. I have my ticket and I’m not letting go of it.

How touts operate now in the internet age, buying up loads of tickets and selling them at crazy markup. Bots make the whole process worse by purchasing at far faster speeds than any human can. The fans lose out, the artist isn’t happy.

The issue is that the currency is the same over whether you’re a tout or the most devoted fan of an artist. It’s sterling, or the US Dollar or whatever you’re paying in. Brands don’t control the global currency markets.

Solving the Artist & Customer Purchase Issue

Firstly you need to control the ticket creation, verification and authenticity of the tickets for a concert.

Dare I say it, I think blockchain might be the answer. The ledger would act as a historic and signed list of tickets generated. On concert day and you get your ticket scanned the confirmation system would lookup on the ledger for confirmed blockchain keys, if you’ve got a confirmed key then all’s good. If it’s a bad match and there’s nothing in the chain, well it certainly wasn’t generated in this ticket run for this gig, back to the car park with you.

If you keep the blockchain ledger locally (ie within the venue on concert day) then you’re reducing the round trip from scan to confirmation. I’ve worked with mobile scanning ticket confirmation systems that work over the air to internet servers, they’re slow and connections break frequently. Local servers, reduce complexity and increase speed.

So where do Taylor and a Whopper collide?

If you can control the loyalty and who gets what, whether it’s a supermarket like Walmart or Tesco or a global artist like Taylor Swift, that’s one thing. To control what the customer buys with is something else.

Interestingly Burger King in Russia are tying up the customer loyalty from the opposite side, the currency. They’re trailing a WhopperCoin which is a Bitcoin/Etherium like token. These tokens can be bought, sold and traded like bitcoins and can exchange between the brand (Burger King), any of BK’s partners and even better customers can sell currency between themselves. It has value.

Loyalty card points have value but it’s usually fractional and in some places come under banking and finance rules. If you’re running your own loyalty scheme with points it might be worth checking…. you’re effectively introducing liquidity into a market.

So, WhopperCoin for currency with limited use to loyal customers. And a ledger based control system for ticket/transaction authenticity.

Taylor Swift merges with Burger King, kind of….

Not literally but the concepts could. What if we’re to say that Taylor Swift fans can earn fractions of TaylorCoins for social media support, blog posts, full youtube views of videos and so on. These coins can be sent, received and traded between each other and also used to buy blockchain enabled concert tickets.

At this point, as I see it, if a tout or a bot wants to purchase Taylor’s tickets for a show they have to be in TaylorCoins and anyone converting huge amounts of dollars into TaylorCoins would send off alarms in the system. When the brand has control of anomaly detection at this scale it means the brand can act by either declining the transaction or other means.

The tout at this point will stick out like a big red flag in a very strong wind. When you control the currency, you control the brand. Touts can be turned away and early in the process. At this point the only way to create tickets would be to create fake ones. And as they are in the blockchain they are easily authenticated against all the other tickets in the ledger.

Ticketing is Big Money

Tours usually break even, unless you’re the Rolling Stones. And that’s why the artist/tout relationship has never been good and it never will be. One side is gaining huge volumes of money over the artist’s reputation and brand.

I’m skimming the surface of a bigger idea here I think but on paper the artist controlling the ticket ledger with blockchain and also controlling the currency of how a customer interacts with the artist provides two key steps to reducing the possibility of fraud, counterfeit goods and preventing real fans from getting access to their idols. Win, win, win and win all around.

Give it five to fifteen years….. everyone will be going to concerts this way. Perhaps.



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