The Lego name is derived from the two Danish words LEg GOdt, which means ‘Play Well’. Here’s how the Australian division lives that motto.
The Lego Group was founded in the small Danish town Billund, Denmark in 1932 by Ole Kirk Cristiansen. Remaining family-owned to this day, Lego has grown to become one of the most recognisable toy brands in the world, with its products now sold in more than 140 countries worldwide.
However, the Lego Australia story began some 30 years later, when John Peddie – once a British sales representative – landed in Australia in 1962 after an eight-stop long haul flight from the UK, carrying just one suitcase filled with sample Lego bricks.
Fast-forward to 2020, Lego Australia now employs over 60 people, while The Lego Group globally employs more than 17,000 people.
The Lego brand has enjoyed a strong heritage in Australia and it continues to see growth in brand affinity, driven by innovation into the products, but also through recent partnerships such as the television show Lego Masters and the opening of new Lego Stores across Australia.
Speaking on the success of the business, The Lego Group Australia and New Zealand VP and GM Claus Kristensen says that the universally appealing nature of the simple Lego brick means anyone can play with the product.
“Lego play is a universal language. It provides unlimited possibilities.
“Lego bricks break the boundaries of geography, language, gender, age and culture.
“Anyone with a sense of fun and imagination can play with Lego bricks and they help young minds to stay open, to keep exploring and to develop skills essential for the world’s future.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lego has certainly been keeping consumers’ brains active, with eBay data revealing that when lockdown began shoppers were buying Lego every minute on the site, with sales up 64 per cent year-on-year in April.
But, like all businesses, Lego has adjusted to the pandemic conditions, relying on digital communication methods and a work from home framework Claus says.
“It is difficult to articulate the impact that the pandemic has had on the business as it is an evolving situation that changes rapidly.
“However, we are of course doing all we can to ensure the health and safety of our colleagues and since early March all office employees have been working from home and doing everything online.
“This has been a big change in ways of working but we have implemented several initiatives to ensure we stay connected and to keep driving our culture online,” he says.
Despite the challenging conditions of the market now, Claus adds that the business is constantly innovating to meet the demands of consumers in regular conditions.
“We operate in an increasingly changing and volatile market, which puts demands on our ability to adapt to future changes in both the retail landscape and in shopping and consumer behaviours.
“In order to work with these challenges and opportunities, we continue to build a diverse organisation that can be agile and adaptive, with a focus on constantly learning and developing capabilities. We encourage creativity and testing new things at the same time as driving cross functional collaboration.
“We have a big focus on leveraging digitalisation, both from marketing and eCommerce perspective to expand our presence within an evolving consumer journey.
“At the same time, we focus on improving the physical shopping experience and bringing the best brand experience to all our fans,” he says.
Looking forward, Claus says the business hopes to continue expanding in Australia, with more stores a potential avenue to be further explored.
“We will focus on bringing play to more Aussie children by innovating and being in more places that our audiences are. This means hopefully expanding our Lego Certified Stores as well as offering more unique Lego play experiences both online and offline.
“We will continue to be consumer and shopper focused to bring the great Lego experience to as many Aussie and Kiwi kids (no matter the age) as possible and we will focus on a seamless experience across online and offline channels,” he says.
This piece originally appeared in the May-June-July edition of Toy & Hobby Retailer.