LEGO CEO Niels B. Christiansen discusses innovating, sustainable elements and new markets as he looks to the future.
Following the news that the LEGO Group returned to growth last year, Business Insider spoke to the CEO of LEGO Group, Niels B. Christiansen. The interview focused on the future of the company, with Christiansen taking the opportunity to highlight some key messages.
Talking about the slow growth rate in Europe and the USA when compared to other emerging markets, the CEO referred to the importance of digital aspects to new products. Markets in Europe and the US are growing at a much slower rate than in China — are we getting bored with LEGO? “…we found ourselves needing to be more imaginative and innovative — which is why, among other things, we’re looking more into how we can marry the digital world into the LEGO experience — we’re investing in it because we see long-term opportunities,” he said.
In 2018, the LEGO Group increased expenditure on product development and innovation by approximately $41 million, an increase of around 50%. “The effects of these investments are not immediately visible,” he explained. “While looking at developing LEGO in the long run, I’ve focused a lot on really investing in innovation.”
As for China and North Africa, two of the markets that the company is investing in, Christiansen intends to play the long name. He noted that as living standards improve and more families become middle class, the LEGO Group needs to be ready to cater to them.
Turning to the sustainable elements that were first introduced last year, he took the opportunity to reiterate the importance of continuing to manufacture a top quality product. “We know plastic is the ideal material for our purposes, which is why we want to obtain it responsibly. This is the goal we’ve set ourselves for 2030.
That’s why we’re saying we’re not getting rid of plastics entirely; what we are saying is that we’ll be investing money in developing materials that will enable us to maintain the quality and strength of plastics — just that we’ll do it using sustainable sources.”