New Balance is sculpting a new digital personality. The activewear brand is adding avatars to its lineup alongside its newest Fresh Foam Roav collection. Here’s what the move might mean for the brand as the industry continues to level up.
By offering consumers the chance to dress their own personalized avatars in New Balance apparel, the brand blurs the line between digital and physical – a trend that’s becoming popular in a plethora of ways, including cryptocurrency and digital influencers. It’s another reminder of just how real the digital reality is. And then there’s the aspirational aspect – even if some consumers can’t afford to deck themselves out in New Balance, all it costs is a few clicks via the brand’s partner in collaboration, Genies App, to do so for their avatar. Once their avatar is suited up, users can share their new look with friends across social platforms. The push is meant specifically to entice Gen Z, 52% of which spend more than three hours a day on messaging apps and 51% of which said they spend another three-plus hours on social networking apps.
This isn’t New Balance’s first try at tickling Gen Z’s fancy. The brand gave gamified ads a go as a more subtle version of product placement last April. But big names like Nike and Adidas are still the showstoppers in the activewear industry, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear. As such, it makes sense that New Balance would want to target a blossoming audience like Gen Z.