For 60 years, children (and the young at heart) around the globe have spent untold sums of hours assembling and disassembling the unmistakable colorful plastic bricks known as LEGO. Often imitated but never replicated, LEGO has opened up the imaginations of countless builders (and demolishers) during its 6 decades as a household name. It’s also become a model for retail stores with its unique eye-catching and interactive elements carefully planned at each of their locations.
LEGO Stores are a Place to Play
The name LEGO is derived from the Danish expression “Leg Godt,” which translates in English to “Play well,” and their physical retail stores encourage just the kind of imagination and playful spirit the bricks inspire. Decked out in bright colors, with architectural features and light fixtures made to mimic the iconic bricks themselves, each store invites shoppers to explore, play and even build.
“’Ever since we opened our first retail store, our vision has been to build an environment that encourages and inspires fun and creativity for our guests of all ages who enter, whilst encapsulating our brand personality and namesake Leg Godt,” Martin Urrutia Islas, LEGO’s retail innovation director told Retail-Focus UK.
“It is our firm belief that shopping for LEGO should be as fun as playing with it.”
It stands to reason that a company whose product encourages the spontaneous urge to “pick-up-and-play” would mirror that impulse in stores themselves. In an effort to drive foot traffic and boost in-store performance, LEGO partnered with retail design agency FITCH to make their retail locations stand out in a way that captures that playful feeling, for kid shoppers and adults alike.
Fun on Display
Store windows contain larger-than-life LEGO robots, and massive LEGO bricks can be seen by any passers by. Strolling past a LEGO store with children is all but guaranteed to result in begging to take a look inside. The store windows are even adorned with clear cylinders filled with multicolored plastic bricks, just out of reach beyond the glass.
The “Pick a Brick” wall in stores, inspired by candy shops of yesteryear, offers row after row of clear tubes packed with colorful LEGO bricks that can be bought by the scoopful. It’s no accident that this oh-so-hands-on display is right at kids’ height, encouraging curious hands to probe the contents. Not missing a trick, the line to the registers corrals customers through a lengthy winding display of low-priced, eye-catching add-ons and accessories, all, of course, at child’s eye level, creating a last-minute touchpoint where customers can throw a few extra items in their shopping baskets.
Centrally located in LEGO stores is a “Lounge” area where customers can make creations of their own, which not only creates a tactile, familiar bond with the product, but creates a positive association of engagement and fun with the retail experience.
Although the plastic bricks are about as low-tech as it gets, the company has experimented in recent years with more high-tech offerings in response to customer feedback. In 2016, LEGO introduced its Mosaic Maker, a booth that lets shoppers create a LEGO mosaic with their faces on them, resoundingly checking off the “personalization” box in the process. Augmented reality displays around the store stoke shoppers’ imaginations by showing fully constructed models simply by holding up a product.
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Giving the Best Customers a Voice
LEGO knows its core audience is young children, and caters to them by actively soliciting their feedback about planned store initiatives.
“Prior to rolling out anything important in our stores we actually sit at a table and present this to children and listen to them. And of course sometimes you say ‘Am I going to let a six or eight year old child tell me what to do in store?’ and the answer is yes, of course. If you present this to them, if you listen to the feedback, it’s going to be interesting,” Urrutia said at this year’s Retail World Congress in Madrid.
“I’ve seen so many companies changing their essence and changing many things,” he says, “and the only question that comes to my mind is – have they really asked their core users what they want?”
A key to LEGO’s staying power as a brand has been constantly innovating with customer input front and center. They’ve created a lasting company that continues to win over new generations, and the thought they put into the in-store experience is no small part of that success.