Five ways to deepen customer engagement and loyalty with web3

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  • Web3 can help your loyalty program both engage existing customers in new ways and capture high-value customers you might reach today.
  • Web3 technology can help you offer more ownership and control, create better customer experiences and grow engagement and loyalty.
  • The key is to proceed in a way that can control costs and manage risks while boosting flexibility and trust.

If you’re helping to lead your organization’s customer engagement and loyalty initiatives, you’re likely feeling more importance — and pressure — than ever. Odds are, the organization is probably looking to you not just to retain customers, but also to drive revenue growth. It’s a tough challenge. PwC’s Customer Loyalty Executive Survey 2023 found that even though budgets for loyalty programs are often rising, results can be disappointing. Sixty-one percent of the executives we surveyed told us their customers are now more loyal than before the pandemic — but only 20% of consumers agreed.

It may be time to add a powerful new set of tools: web3. A set of technologies combined with a user-centric ethos, web3 can help you both engage old customers in new ways and capture new, high-value customers you might not be reaching today. It can add innovative, compelling engagement mechanisms to your existing loyalty program. It can even reduce costs. Even though the technology is still evolving, with the right approach web3 can start enhancing loyalty programs today.

Engage customers and build loyalty: five ways web3 can help

What is web3, exactly, and why should you care? Web3 combines digital technologies such as blockchain with new ownership, incentives and community models. That matters because it allows your customers to more fully control, own, share and sell items like digital products, digital services and data. Offering more ownership and control can create better customer experiences and grow engagement, loyalty and lifetime value. Web3 can help companies achieve some valuable benefits.

  • Meet customers where they are. Consumers are likely spending more and more time online and on digital platforms, which is where web3 thrives. PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey found that 43% of consumers plan to increase online shopping — compared to just 23% who plan to increase in-store shopping. Next generation consumers are especially likely to spend time online and to adopt web3 technologies and ethos. Many of these users may want to own their digital property, which they can do in web3, just as they own physical property today. 
  • Create improved personalized experiences. Web3 technologies can empower your customers to selectively and securely share more personal data — so you can give them the personalization that they want. In our Customer Loyalty Survey 2022, 82% of consumers said they were willing to share some type of personal data in exchange for more personalized service. So in a web3 environment, for example, you could use a token to allow access to your online shopping data in exchange for a benefit or an improved loyalty point earn rate.
  • Offer collaboration and community. Consumers often form communities centered around ownership of specific items such as brands of cars or homes in certain neighborhoods. These communities may include web-based forums or private social media groups. As web3 unlocks full ownership rights for digital items (including the right to sell and trade them), brands can encourage and deepen communities around their digital products and collaborate with these communities on new products and experiences.
  • Reduce costs. Loyalty programs often create financial liabilities: in return for loyalty points, you promise to provide products, services or cash. With web3, you can create digital items whose value derives from their function as entertainment, collectibles or access rights to digital experiences. You may never need to redeem them for cash or costly real-world services.
  • Build the future. When web3 scales, loyalty programs could be among the first movers. A loyalty program is, after all, a ledger — and blockchain is fundamentally a decentralized ledger that enables better user experiences, collaboration and automation of manual functions. Starting on web3 today can prepare you for the next generation of loyalty programs. It can also help you prepare your whole company for future web3 opportunities.

What web3 success can look like

With web3 for customer engagement, there’s no need to dive in at the deep end. It’s typical to start small. But as you build up your initiative, pilot by pilot and piece by piece, you could aim for a program that will eventually have certain characteristics.

Drive growth while keeping costs down: how to get started with web3

Not every company has a loyalty program or customer base that could benefit from web3 today — but many do. The key is to determine exactly what web3 can do for you, then proceed in a way that can control costs and manage risks while boosting flexibility and trust. These guidelines can help get you started.

Identify the right audience. Do you have a significant demographic segment that web3 loyalty programs might excite? Do you seek to drive growth and lifetime value with younger consumers and digital natives? Identify exactly who a web3 pilot should target.

Customize a solution for your business. Carefully design a web3 experience that aligns with your brand and is accessible and enjoyable. With the most effective web3 solutions, users don’t even realize they’ve engaged with web3 at all.

Start small and scale later. There’s no need to fully reinvent your existing programs to get started. At this point in the web3 loyalty life cycle it’s acceptable to experiment, fall short and move on to another activation. The goal is to help build affordable ways to engage and collaborate with customers — giving them a vested interest in helping your web3 program scale and succeed.

Deploy trust-by-design. It’s better to design trust in from the start, rather than racing to close gaps after programs are up and running. Design web3 pilots to help reduce the new risks around factors like identity authentication, privacy, cybersecurity and compliance.

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Matthew Blumenfeld

Global and US Digital Asset Leader, PwC US


John Oliver

Partner, Governance Insights Center & National FinTech Trust Services Co-Leader, Washington, PwC US


John Rolston

Customer Transformation and Loyalty Partner, PwC US


Jon Glick

Principal, Customer Transformation and Loyalty, PwC US


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