Benita Chacko

How does LEGO aim to grow its consumer base in India?

The construction toy company’s marketing head talks about cultural differences that make India a different market, as compared to Europe and America.

“Play is the work of the child,” said the late Italian educator Maria Montessori. And, the toys that children play with, are the most important tools of this work. Whether it is a rattle or a kitchen set, it all helps children in learning and forming important life skills.

Indian kids are largely seen to indulge in pretend play with dolls, doctor or kitchen sets. They are also fond of vehicles and weapons, and as they grow older, they move onto board games. Indian kids give very little attention to construction toys, like building blocks and bricks.

Bhavana Mandon
Bhavana Mandon

In fact, this culture of building doesn't exist in India and can be clearly seen in the absence of the ‘Do it yourself’ (DIY) culture in adulthood. Bhavana Mandon, marketing director, LEGO Group India, says the construction toys brand’s single most important priority for India, is to change this mindset. LEGO wants Indian kids to experience the joy of building and the pride of creation.

“The group wants to influence the mindset, and bring building and bricks closer to children. We want to bring in that change, so that today’s children can be inspired to become the builders of tomorrow.”

Building, as a culture, is quite innate to countries in Europe, America and other parts of the world. But that’s not the case in India, where the focus is more on blocks than bricks. LEGO is faced with two major challenges in India.

“From a cultural perspective, Indians don't have any nostalgia associated with the brand. Building is very nascent in India. This is the first generation of parents, who are getting exposed to the brand. We desire to build that legacy in India. It’s a big change we need to bring in. But it is picking up quite fast,” Mandon mentions.

The other challenge is Indian parents’ strong focus on studies and the lack of priority on play.

“Indian parents have an 'ROI' mindset. In the pursuit of getting the best out of each and every minute, parents prioritise studies and that leaves very little time to do anything else, including play. Research has proven that play is kids’ favourite way to learn. So, we need to work on the parents’ mindset to inspire them to play with their children more and bring to them the joy of building together,” Mandon adds.

The LEGO Group launched in the Indian market in 2020. Its first campaign in the country, 'The Little Red Brick', communicated the infinite potential of creativity that the bricks offer to children.

One of the world’s largest toy makers, LEGO has just completed 90 years. In 1932, Ole Kirk, a Danish carpenter, crafted a line of small wooden toys in his workshop. His first collection had 36 items, including cars, airplanes, and YoYos, to help local children learn about the world.

Twenty-six years later, Kirk's son Godtfred patented the LEGO brick, as it is seen today, with its interlocking tube system enabling innumerable creative building possibilities. The name 'LEGO' comes from two Danish words 'Leg Godt', meaning 'Play Well'.

As part of its 90th anniversary celebrations, LEGO is hosting a series of PLAY initiatives across the globe. In India, it is launching its celebratory brand film `We are all builders’ and collaborating with influencers to drive the importance of play.

It has also set up India’s largest play event, with the first-ever LEGO Playground at R City Mall in Mumbai between August 12 and 21. It has a plethora of fun activities, passion-based play, creativity corners, LEGO speed champions arena and minifigure mascot meet & greets. The playground will go live in Delhi and Bengaluru in September. It also created the largest Independence Day LEGO Graffiti Wall to celebrate the 75th Independence Day.

LEGO Graffiti Wall
LEGO Graffiti Wall

“The past nine decades have been about reinforcing the importance of play. So, as a part of our 90th anniversary celebrations, what could be better than celebrating what we truly stand for - play and fan creativity. We are marking our 90th anniversary by launching our largest-ever celebration of play to inspire people around the world to play more, irrespective of what their age, location or interests may be,” Mandon says.

LEGO has seen some interesting brand collaborations in recent times. It collaborated with sportswear brand adidas for apparel, footwear and accessories. It also collaborated with Swedish furniture brand IKEA and American clothing company Levi’s. Mandon says LEGO is looking forward to having collaborations in India as well.

“Collaborations are a cornerstone, in terms of building the brand. We have just about started our journey in India. And, as we take baby steps, we are looking forward to a host of collaborations in entertainment, art and design, music, fashion, etc. This will be a slow, but steady process.”

LEGO bricks from recycled plastic
LEGO bricks from recycled plastic

For its 100th anniversary in 2032, LEGO has set a target - of becoming a sustainable brand. From originally being made of wood, it is today made of plastic. However, in 2021, LEGO experimented making these bricks from recycled plastic bottles.

“It's a journey that we are undertaking towards our 100th year. It is a step by step journey. Last year, we started opting for sustainable packaging. Then, we have experimented making the bricks from recycled material. It is now coming up on a larger scale and slowly, by 2032, we intend to become an organisation which is based on recyclable bricks,” Mandon concludes.

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