Legos Let the Grownups Play
Brand Insights in 3 Sentences: The Lego Company has taken notice of its older fanbase and expanded their products and marketing to include them as well. Twitter discussions on Lego primarily come from users who are passionate about these causes: creative arts, childhood education and causes, self-care, and nostalgic memorabilia. In order to reach these consumers, we’ve suggested that they align their promotional strategies closer with these interests, like highlighting the creations of their consumers and bringing more awareness to their charitable activities.
Lego is perhaps one of the most iconic brands of toys and has firmly imprinted their colorful building blocks into pop culture. As they celebrate their 90th anniversary this year, the company announced that their sales had jumped 17% in the first half of 2022, reaching about US$3.6 billion, evidence that they’ve transcended generations and are only growing in popularity.
The toys were specifically designed with children in mind and are recognized for their educational benefits, such as enhanced fine motor and problem-solving skills. Traditionally, they were also marketed as such.
Running old Lego ads through Sphere’s Unsupervised Image Classifier analysis, we found that children featured almost double more than adults in their ads. The adults in the ads are also featured in the context of supervising their children playing rather than interacting with the toys themselves.
Search interest today shows that people between the ages of 18–24 and 25–34 make up the largest segments looking to purchase Legos, with only 30% of them being parents. Hundreds of Twitter posts also provide evidence that it’s become increasingly popular for grownups to pick up Lego-building as a hobby.
The company has clearly taken notice as they’ve begun selling more advanced sets targeted towards an older crowd (with an 18+ age marking), opened more adult-focused concept stores and events, and included messaging targeted towards an older audience. Sphere also found that their more recent ads feature both grownups and children enjoying Legos more equally.
Who are these lego hobbyists?
Using Sphere’s Audience Group App, we took a closer look into who these people are, their interests and passions, and what gets them excited about Legos.
A key motivation for many grownups buying Legos is the brand’s licensing deals with popular franchises like Marvel, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Their product portfolio is diverse, so there’s something for fans of each cinematic universe. While licensing has been the backbone of the toy industry for decades, Lego’s model aren’t just mini reiterations of iconic characters, they’ve found a way to incorporate their own style and voice into their products without disregarding the original films. The popular Lego Star Wars The Skywalker Saga video game, for example, is slightly altered from the franchise’s storyline, while the usually dark and broody Batman character is portrayed as comedic in Lego’s adaptation.
This bodes well with the highly discerning, grownup fans of these franchises and has driven many to purchase these products, even if they weren’t Lego builders before. Our app revealed that this segment, in fact, appears to be the largest and most active on Twitter talking about Legos.
In addition to these films, this group likes to discuss animation, game illustration, and various other forms of arts and entertainment in their profiles. Some even feature their interests in their bios, which indicates that creative expression is an important part of their identities.
Here’s how to target this segment:
- Working closely with major entertainment companies is already Lego’s strong suit, but the brand could benefit from looking into new spaces as well. With such a wide global audience, Lego could consider partnerships with more localized entertainment companies, or other areas with huge fandoms such as K-pop or professional sports leagues.
- Since this group are appreciators of art, the company should aim to continue highlighting their building blocks as a medium of art. Lego art sets are already being sold, and many creations have been displayed in galleries, but their strategies should also be to push the creativity aspect back onto the user. This could take the form of encouraging their consumers to imagine and create original designs or sharing more user-generated content on their platforms to entice people to keep building.
The Child Activists
The next segment our Audience Groups app identified showed a strong interest in children’s literature and childhood toys. Some of these are parents and educators of young children, while others are simply nostalgic for things they used to enjoy and find comfort in reconnecting with this activity.
In fact, in both segments, the act of building legos is often accompanied by words like ‘self-care’ and ‘relax.’ These consumers often talk about building legos at the end of a long day or over the weekend to unwind and keep their minds off their troubles. Unlike passive activities like watching television, legos give people a sense of accomplishment from having created something. Even The Lego Company has stated in their 2022 Well Report that 78% of adults believed that LEGO play helped with their well-being.
Parents and educators use legos as a way to bond with children or provide learning experiences. Many teachers on Twitter describe how they utilize legos to teach languages, social studies, and even the basics of coding in their classes. They believe that these toys help to fine-tune problem-solving and collaborative skills, as well as to add a layer of interactivity.
Another interest area for this segment is philanthropy, especially causes relating to education. Their profiles feature tweets of them promoting charities or donation drives, usually asking for monetary funds or items to be provided to schools and teachers.
While this segment doesn’t talk about legos as often as the previous group, they have a higher average follower count, which may suggest that they yield slightly more influence on the platform. The Lego brand could benefit from engaging this audience on social media more and ramping up its marketing efforts toward them.
Here’s how to target this segment:
- The company could tap into consumers’ nostalgia by bringing back past themes or sets or at least drawing inspiration for them for new products. This could generate even more excitement and reignite the interests of generations who haven’t even thought of buying legos in years.
- Lego has a great Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program, including the Lego Foundation that supports children’s education and play, as well as disadvantaged children. However, this isn’t clearly highlighted in their platforms and social media, and the foundation has a considerably lower following compared to the Lego brand itself. Seeing as this segment cares for children’s causes, the company’s image could be further strengthened by promoting the foundation more and the activities they do to support them.
- The brand is fully aware that lego toys are an outlet for stress and have taken steps to align itself with well-being initiatives. However, we believe that the company should really take advantage of these sentiments and lean into getting more involved with mental health programs. By reinforcing that they care about their consumers’ welfare, they are showing people that they are so much more than just a toy brand.
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