Wednesday, 11 January 2012
Where in the shop should LEGO be?
LEGO Friends is hitting shelves in shops around the world, as the company makes their big push into the girls’ market. But where should these sets be sat in the shop? In the LEGO aisle? Or with the other girls toys? LEGO think this question will make an impact on how successful the new line is.
Toy retailers have been fully primed by LEGO that Friends should not be in the LEGO section of the shop. The theory is that girls consider LEGO to be a boys’ toy, so won’t go looking in that section. They might be checking out Barbie or Bratz and spot LEGO Friends on a nearby shelf, however, and give it a go. The other suggestion is that boys feel a sense of ‘ownership’ with LEGO, and might be confused by pink boxes turning up in ‘their’ LEGO section.
This highlights what makes LEGO a different company to other toy companies. If Hasbro were to release a new line of toys for girls, it would automatically go in the girls’ section. But Hasbro don’t have a section in the toy shop. Various Hasbro products are spread throughout, depending what type of product it is. Customers identify Hasbro toys by the toy, not the company. A customer doesn’t walk in looking for a “Hasbro action figure”, yet they might walk in looking for “a LEGO set”.
If to make a new LEGO line successful it should be immersed in similar products from other companies, then LEGO Star Wars should be a failure. These sets have always sat with other LEGO, rather than in with the various other Star Wars toys available. This strategy has led to LEGO overtaking Hasbro as the leading Star Wars toy manufacturer in the UK, unthinkable when the line launched in 1999. More directly linked to LEGO Friends, the long-overdue Pink Brick Box (5585) debuted in the regular LEGO section and was extremely successful (as apparently parents felt a blue bucket of bricks wasn’t a suitable gift for a girl). This demonstrates that a product for girls – and it was just one single product – could be found tucked in among the rest of the LEGO.
It seems that the strategy at LEGO is to penetrate different areas of the toy shop and compete directly, side by side with Hasbro and Mattel. Rather than coming in looking for LEGO, children and parents will enter the shop looking for Friends or Ninjago (as the brands are extended with books and TV programmes). It isn’t just LEGO Friends that is heading to the girls’ section, new LEGO Duplo products are intended for the pre-school section.
Without actually comparing sales figures it is hard to say whether LEGO Friends should in with other LEGO or in with other products for girls. Some retailers feel that when parents are looking for LEGO aimed at girls, they will look in the LEGO section to find it – but LEGO are determined that their strategy on this is the right one. The one example that exists to prove the argument is LEGO Games. When the new board games from LEGO were launched, the company were determined that these would sit in the board games aisle next to Monopoly and Scrabble, rather than in with regular LEGO construction sets. LEGO Games were unbelievably successful in their launch year, seeing them jump straight to the #2 position in the board games market* - which undoubtedly encouraged LEGO to go down this merchandising route again.
Ultimately, if LEGO Friends is successful, where in the shop it is sat is unlikely to be credited with much of that success. But with the huge budget the line has (possibly the largest of any LEGO line), if it fails it could well get a share of the blame. And really, if the product is good enough, surely customers will seek it out no matter where in the shop it is?
*Source: Toy News, March 2010