Skip to content

When IGK’s Edwin Chong talks NFTs at the FLOW Summit, you should listen

Read the State of Fraud Report

Read the State of Fraud Report 2021

The cover of the state of fraud 2021 report

You’d be forgiven for being so over some of the buzziest innovations frequently talked about in future-of-retail discussions. Sometimes it seems there is so much talk, but not a lot of action.

Until there is a lot of action.

Edwin Chong, vice president, ecommerce and digital marketing, at hair products and styling brand IGK gets that. Particularly when he’s talking about the power of NFTs in retail, as he did recently at Signifyd’s FLOW Summit 2022. 

NFTs can build retail community

Yes, NFTs, as in non-fungible tokens, as in a unique identifier that can assign ownership to any digital something. The cool kids have been investing in NFTs and trading them to gain profit and status. Chong sees their value in the ability the tokens have in building a community — in his case building a community of customers and fans of the IGK brand

Key takeaways from Edwin Chong's NFT presentation
  • NFTs might be a next big thing in retail, or they might not. The thing is, now is the time for brands to understand the potential that non-fungible tokens could have for their business.
  • At a time when the cost of customer acquisition in on the rise, NFTs present a way to attract new customers and keep those who are already shopping your brand.
  • It’s early days, but Edwin Chong’s IGK hair product brand already has seen engagement and conversion improvements related to a thoughtful NFT initiative.


“I’m not here to convince anyone that NFTs have intrinsic value,” Chong told the crowd gathered for his session at FLOW. “I’m not sure email, in and of itself, has any intrinsic value.” 

What email, NFTs and other innovations have is the potential to be the vehicle that creates value. Gmail, for instance, turned out to be a pretty good business, based on email. MailChimp? Different business, but with email at its core. 

The time to test NFTs is now

And so it is with NFTs. Among the refreshing and engaging things about Chong’s presentation was his reasoned discussion of NFTs, a topic that can get pretty frothy. He was not saying brands better get on the NFT train because they are going to be huge, huge, huge.

“It’s still early days,” Chong told the FLOW audience, “and I think people are still exploring what they can do with NFTs. So, it might look like they don’t know what they’re doing.” 

The way Chong sees it, it’s smart to experiment now. Maybe NFTs won’t be huge in retail. But maybe they will be and the best bet is to understand what they are, how they work and the potential they have for building retail success.

He’s in pretty good company. Chong noted that Adidas is experimenting with NFTs. So are Nike and Gucci and Prada. Starbucks is in on it. And so are enough celebrities to provide Entertainment Tonight with a month’s worth of material. 

IGK’s Chong is working to make NFTs accessible

Chong said he and his IGK team were interested in making NFTs more accessible  — to move the action beyond Crypto Twitter, Discord and the like and move the conversation to more common social networks, like Instagram and TikTok. 

“What we wanted to do was make it more available for our audience. We weren’t trying to sell hair care to a hard-core NFT audience,” he said. “We were just trying to get NFTs into the hands of more people and introduce them to that space.”

IDK started by creating characters with stories that represented each of the shades in a new line of at-home hair coloring products. 

The idea was to provide NFT holders with perks like styling sessions, access to flash sales, early access to products. IGK fans could collect the NFTs by participating in a contest that was part digital scavenger hunt and part raffle. Participants would gather clues throughout the web and ultimately be entered into a raffle through which they could win an NFT of one of the characters.


Watch Edwin Chong’s entire FLOW Summit 2022 presentation

Hair products and styling brand IGK has built a creative campaign based on NFTs — non-fungible tokens — aimed at building a community of brand fans. Early indications are that the idea is working. Customers are more engaged, conversions are up and the latest product line is selling like crazy.

Watch Edwin Chong’s presentation at the FLOW Summit 2022 on demand. Chong is IGK vice president, ecommerce and digital marketing, at hair care and styling brand IGK

Collaboration can increase the community-building power of NFTs

IGK also collaborated with Crypto Chicks, a community launched to empower women, that has its own NFT portraits of some of its members. Chong’s brand invited Crypto Chicks to the IGK site and offered them a discount — all without the need for discount codes, which have the potential to be abused.

 The convergence of NFT holders created conversation and a marketplace for anyone interested in buying and selling the underlying NFTs. 

Chong said the stronger community was reflected in his company metrics. IGK saw a 10-times increase in registration in the wake of the program. Engagement was up six times. IGK reached three times as many people as it had been reaching and saw a 1.3-times increase in conversion.

Could NFTs ease the cost pressure of acquiring customers?

In a time when digital advertising costs — and therefore the cost of customer acquisition — is on the rise, NFT might point the way to an alternative or additional path to finding new customers and keeping current customers engaged. 

Moreover, the at-home color line at the core of the NFT initiative turned out to be IGK’s number one product to date, Chong said. 

And so, as Chong mentioned at the outset, it is still early days for NFTs and retail. But there is little question that the early returns are in and they show great promise. 

Photo by Signifyd

Want help navigating the future of ecommerce? Let’s talk.

Mike Cassidy

Mike Cassidy

Mike is the head of storytelling at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at [email protected].