NFTs are certainly the talk of the town where I don’t think I need to explain. After looking into it for a bit, I realized only rough 10% of NFTs are sold and it takes up 85% of all the transactions. And what makes me curious is that all the NFTs that made to the headline with big dollar signs are Avatars NFTs — also called PFP NFTs.
From the well-known CryptoPunks, Bored Ape to Hong Kong locally created Bunny warriors, Lucky Kittens. They are all avatars. If we think NFTs are the digital presence of the traditional art market, this definitely does not align. Portraits are not particularly dominant in the traditional art market. I don’t think it happens out of luck. I believe there are product reasons behind that.
That’s why here I try to discuss in product/user behavioural perspective why avatars NFTs are more popular than others.
Before we begin, let’s talk about the rationale: the golden Rules for all startups, product makers, creators is to — Make something people want. Assuming this rule is inevitable, then what makes Avatars NFTs something people want beyond the hype and investment incentive?
1. Utility — Profile Picture/Avatar
One of the biggest reasons Avatars NFTs go viral was people can change their social media profile picture to their newly owned NFT. It creates a massive networking effect in the best place — social media.
Profile picture has always been a place for people to express themselves subtly since Facebook, Whatsapp times. Imagine getting a scenic drawing NTFs, you could hardly use it as a profile picture, as it lacks visual identity and representation of an individual. But now, with your unique ape or bunny, you basically can “hang” around wherever you go online. It might seem little, but Avatar NFTs leverages on it and made a massive impact in both product & growth perspectives.
Apart from that, avatars NFTs can be an actual 3D avatar in the metaverse — when metaverse is popularised in the future.
Is our instagram story gonna be all avatar NFTs 1 months later?
2. Emotion attachment & Rarity
Remember your childhood teddy? or your latest Marvel figure on your desk? Human loves to build an emotional attachment with other beings, it goes from our affection with animals, favourite movie characters to fictional anime characters. We’re much easier to fall in love with an “individual being” than “an object”.
Looking at common traits of avatars NFTs, with the colourful backgrounds, themed costumes and accessories, they all represent and reflect certain styles via visual forms. It does not only create a sense of uniqueness but also helps people to like their NFTs more.
Add-on to make it more special — in some cases, when you mint it on sales, you will mint from the collection randomly. Everyone like the taste of lucky draw, and we love it even more after spending money on it. Because it feels like our “destiny” to get this particular one.
3. IKEA effect & Community
People want cool and shiny things, and they want new things all the time. They want to belong to certain groups, communities and identify with them. Most NFTs buyers do not just buy a piece like people in the art auction. Instead, they joined the project’s Discord, Twitter, Instagram early on and participate in the making. They’re not buying a product but co-creating and side projects in the digital world — a typical IKEA effect, you’re easier to develop a sense of belonging when you build it yourself. And when the collection is done and grew. Owning those NFTs becomes a membership card to their private club — it represents their status, represents the value they stand for.
Some may argue non-avatar NFTs can achieve the same. However, to build a sense of social presence, having an avatar has its irreplaceable importance — also a technique product designer uses to increase conversion. Avatars could easily build up a sense of community. You don’t want to talk to a car on discord, don’t you?
Blockchain-tech definitely takes the stage with Metaverse. And I don’t think overhype is the only reason they become that big. With all upcoming web3 and NFT projects, I’m excited to see how this unfold in the future, and most importantly, to see how would it affect non-tech people’s daily life.