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Expert Insight: How Avatar-Based Social App Genies Helps Gucci Reach Gen Z


PSFK speaks to Genies' director of marketing to understand how a collaboration with Gucci helps generate the brand generate awareness and engagement with key digital-first and social-savvy consumers

In brief:

  • According to our research, Gen Z sees little distinction between their on and offline lives, fluidly navigating the physical-digital divide like no other generation. For brands, this spells new opportunities for activating and engaging current and future customers.
  • This is something Gucci sought to pursue through its collaboration with Genies, a social platform that lets friends chat and interact in avatar form, for which the luxury brand created virtual versions of its apparel for users to sport.
  • As part of our recent exploration of how brands can understand and better serve Gen Z consumers, PSFK sat down with the director of marketing at Genies, Allison Sturges, for a glimpse into helping future-proof a luxury brand for key digital-first younger consumers.

PSFK: What led to the collaboration between Genies and Gucci, and how does it speak to the way luxury brands are evolving?

Allison Sturges: As technology evolves, fashion and brands need to evolve as well. As a leader in luxury fashion, Gucci understands this and is constantly initiating and adopting early trends. For years they've been seeking out an avatar to partner with so they could further their innovative and digitally powered narrative, and Genies allows them to pursue the digital landscape with an avatar that they feel fits their brand from a level of design, expression, and technology.

Our demo heavily consists of Gen Z and Millennials, which is not only the most sought after demographic for brands, but also consists of consumers that might not be able to access or even afford Gucci, allowing the brand to build a longer term relationship with future customers.


How does the way that Gen Z communicates differ from previous generations? 

Gen Z is all about digital. They grew up online and pretty much only exist and communicate in the digital world. They also shape the current-day trends through their behaviors. We know that in the future, everyone is going to have some kind of digital identity, and self-expression will be at the core of that identity.

The yearning right now for individualization in the digital world is being powered by Gen Z as they explore new and unique ways to express themselves digitally.

What do you think has led to the rise of avatars and other methods for personalizing digital communications?

Giving the creative power to the user shows up on pretty much every successful social platform, whether it’s decking out your story with your favorite gifs, filtering music over your short-form videos or using a custom avatar to express your thoughts and emotions—they are all tools for self-expression in the digital world.

Avatars are the most personalized way to express yourself without needing the physical person to be present, and they are only becoming more and more expressive as technology develops.


How do Genies' features, such as countless personalization options and group chat features, appeal to Gen Z?

We know that for a user to connect with their avatar, where it really feels like a digital extension of themselves, it’s not only about the design, but also about the expression. Our design process has been heavily influenced by the younger demos, as you can see with our popular Gucci clothing integration, and it allows them to select from a wide variety of detailed assets to ensure they are able to personalize it at the level of detail they’d want their digital self to represent.

Our core differentiator though has been the ability to express through animation. We feel that for an avatar to really be a form of self-expression, it needs to be able to show the personality of the user, and we’ve provided that through our evolving and topical action library that users can use to communicate through their Genies.

How do you see Genies continuing to evolve? Do you have any plans for future brand partnerships in luxury fashion or beyond?

As we continue innovating our technology and animation capabilities, users will also be able to explore new emotions, topical actions, and use cases to keep the personality of the Genie always feeling fresh and representative of the person using it. Integrating brands like Gucci allows our users to tap into the most relevant trends in both the physical and digital world, and through our Avatar Agency, we are now partnering with select leading companies across all consumer verticals to integrate into our entire Genies ecosystem, allowing them to release branded wheels, topical actions, and work with our premier avatar celebrity talent.

Allison Sturges. Genies


Lead image: Genies