LEGO recently launched its first flagship store in Beijing, the company’s third to open in China since 2016. The event reflects LEGO’s strong confidence in the connection it has been able to make with China’s kids of all ages. The brand is thriving on the combination of online sales and brick-and-mortar stores where kids can enjoy actual play. The success story continues: LEGO will double its current number of stores in China.
LEGO sold its first products in China in 1983. Over the past 35 years, the company has been building brand and geographic presence in the country. Since the new Beijing flagship store opened at Wangfujing Street, one of the most popular shopping and entertainment areas in Beijing, the crowds keep coming. Kids and parents come to enjoy the LEGO experience in the 626-square-meter store that is intended to become a center for the local LEGO community. The secret of stores like this one: providing creative and fun LEGO experiences. In other words: let kids play and the toys will sell themselves.
Stores crucial to success
Paul Huang, General Manager of LEGO China, says stores like these are crucial to LEGO’s success. “Our first flagship store in Beijing allows us to bring creative LEGO play to even more Chinese children. The stunning store features engaging digital experiences in a unique physical space that will inspire children, parents and fans to fully explore the LEGO play experience.”
Play and interaction sell well. At least for LEGO, that has found the key to the hearts of children in China – and to their parents’ wallets. China is LEGO’s fastest-growing market in the world; its revenue in the Chinese market recorded strong double-digit growth in 2018, generated by e-commerce, digital as well as physical platforms in China. LEGO believes that this combination works for China.
Another 80 stores
At the presentation of LEGO’s annual report, CEO Niels Christiansen announced that the company is going full-throttle on its success in China. "You can expect us to open another 80 stores, Lego-branded stores in China to continue our investment in the country," said Christiansen. LEGO will hence increase its footprint from 60 certified stores in 18 cities to 140 stores in more than 30 cities.
There seems to be room for many other brands in China. According to Euromonitor International, the market value of traditional toys and games sector in China is $47.45 billion) in 2018, a 15 percent increase from 2017.
LEGO in elementary schools
LEGO’s success is not just based on traditional marketing techniques. LEGO has just launched its first STEAM courses for Chinese students in elementary schools. The courses are the result of close collaboration between East China Normal University Press (ECNUP) and LEGO Education. The courses use LEGO Education products including Simple Machines Set, Creative Suitcase, Space and Airport Set and Creative LEGO Brick Set to support teaching in an inspiring, engaging and effective way. The STEAM courses consist of student textbooks and teacher guidebooks.
Meanwhile, play in the new LEGO Beijing Wangfujing flagship store continues. In the store, LEGO has been able to create a strong bond with local culture and tradition via large scale 3D models inspired by the Forbidden City (made out of 2.2 million LEGO bricks), scenes showing the Great Wall and traditional Chinese-style sedan chairs, models of guardian lions and mosaics of guardian dragons. Kids in the store react in a way that is similar to anywhere else in the world: they refuse to leave this wonder world without at least one LEGO product in their shopping bag.