Lego Hong Kong thriving despite global challenges
Lego Hong Kong operations continue to expand as the iconic toy brand marks its 60th anniversary.
In an interview with marketing-interactive.com, the brand’s regional GM Troy Taylor explained how in such a well-established market as Hong Kong (as opposed to neighbouring regions where the brand’s reputation is still emerging) the company’s strategy is focused on retaining the attention of children and fans.
“We make sure everything we do benefits children, and they see value playing with our products,” said Taylor. “And I think the educational purpose becomes so much more important now than ever before, because parents are looking for something to get their children away from the screen. We offer something that can help break that, and help children learn, but they are learning through play, so they don’t actually realise they are learning… that’s the value of our brand.”
Anniversary celebrations for Lego Hong Kong were marked with the opening of the Tsuen Wan Plaza X Lego Our Playground.
The local growth comes in the wake of a decade-long sales boom that came to an end for the Danish toymaker last year. At the time, the company warned it may not achieve growth again for up to two years. The unexpected sales decline followed a slump in growth from 25 per cent in 2015 to just six per cent the following year, and coincided with the dismissal of both its CEO and eight per cent of its workforce.
Part of the blame for the decline was placed on the unsustainably strong demand for its Star Wars merchandise following the 2015 movie, at a time when the proliferation of smartphones within developed markets was adding a lot of competition for the attention of children.
Hong Kong is traditionally a particularly strong market for Lego. Three years ago, the local Lego Certified Store reported pulling in the highest spending per square foot of any branch worldwide, according to sole distributor Kidsland International Holdings’ VC Dr William Lo. The store distinguished itself by marketing to adult fans – Hong Kong’s community of adult fans is the most engaged in the world, with the highest number of active fans per capita.
This year, Lego has focused on grassroots marketing strategies. “We have support from our shopping mall partners,” said Taylor. “Not only do events boost the numbers in the malls, they also allow customer to have ‘brick-in-the-hands’ moments with Lego. It gives family reason to get out of the house, and bond the family.”
The brand has also embraced technological marketing strategies, including augmented reality, creation-sharing and remote control apps, as well as a Lego Facebook filter.
“Lego bricks will always be the core of everything we do, but we realised the environment changes, and we adapted,” said Taylor. “We are still true to ourselves, we are still true to who we are as a company. But we have to evolve with the changing ways that people consume.”