The LEGO Group declares: ‘Adults welcome’

With data showing that more adults are buying LEGO sets for themselves than ever before, the LEGO Group is declaring ‘adults welcome

Since the year began, LEGO fans have seen a few new initiatives get rolled out. 10272 Old Trafford – Manchester United was rolled out in a black box with a clever and expensive looking advertising campaign, then new Star Wars helmet sets were introduced with an 18+ age marking, before 10273 Haunted House was released with no Creator Expert branding.

To explain the thinking behind the LEGO Group’s new strategy for adult consumers, LEGO Brand Strategist Genevieve Capa Cruz shared a presentation about it during LEGO Fan Media Days 2020.

Unsurprisingly, the LEGO Group is following the money. According to the company’s research, the number of adults buying sets for themselves has increased fourfold over the past decade, huge growth is projected in 2020 and a significant percentage of buyers are new to the LEGO brand. Half of all adults are interested in the brand.

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Rather boring attitudes, that adult LEGO fans have long forgotten, still exist though – some statements that the marketing team heard from adults included “it’s a kids toy” and “it’s not present where adults are”. To combat these perceptions, the LEGO Group will communicate the wide product range better, prove the ‘right experience’ for adults and sell LEGO products where adults are.

“They are not aware of the full range of products that we have that are good for adults or catering adults’ interest,” Genevieve explains during the presentation.

The new packaging design intends to combat another perception that some potential adult consumers have –“the models are not really for me”. This has led to the new visual identity being developed, eschewing the idea that each theme should have its own packaging style and artwork.

According to the LEGO Group, the previous adult focused products sold within Architecture, Ideas, Creator Expert and Technic makes it “hard to decode and identify adult products” leading to “low awareness of depth of LEGO adult offer”. A new packaging design was developed, although the company wants to keep the process it went through to arrive at the finished look secret.

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‘Passion points’ are key to appealing to adult consumers, the marketeers have determined, with the model itself, the name of it and any associated logos being key to communicating that. These ‘passion points’ have been determined to be more important than themes such as Creator Expert and Architecture. The 18+ logo is an “indicator of audience & experience”.

“When we did the testing, we also tested it among older kids, so basically the 9 to 12 years old, because we know the kids, especially the builders, they don‘t really navigate so much on the age segment,” Genevieve asserts. “It is really about whether they like the model, whether they think they can build it. We just wanted to make sure they are not turned off, or turned away by that. Funnily enough, it has made it more aspirational for them, the fact that it’s for the quote-unquote ‘the big boys’, or the grown-ups, makes it even more interesting for them.”

Creator Expert has been retired as a brand because it “is leading the change agenda, as it comprises a significant part of the adult portfolio”. There was also a concern that there would be a perception that only Creator Expert set are for adults.

To provide the right experience to adults, and ensure they realise it is for them as well as children, the LEGO Group will market its products with new messaging. In order to achieve this, the team has figured out that the ‘burnout’ generation, tired of long hours and screen time, can perceive LEGO building as a way to unwind. Seeing people’s wellbeing as being negatively impacted by screen time, multi-tasking and FOMO, the LEGO Group intends to inveigle its way into their lives as an immersive alternative using the phrase ‘joyful focus’ to describe the building process.

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Noting that AFOL networks and websites – such as Brick Fanatics – have been aware of the relaxing benefits of LEGO building, and that mainstream media is now aware of that too, the opportunity is there for the marketing team to take advantage of that narrative. “You just feel like you have decompressed, you just feel so relaxed, we say here ‘to feel joyful and uplifted’ because you have created something that you can be proud of,” says Gen.

As well as new packaging and new messaging, the LEGO Group plans to start “creating a portfolio that is based on adults’ interests”. Some of these new products will be inspired by the fan community, with Gen citing the AFOL community as a place to do research.

New “experiences and products” will be released in three “passion spaces” – Sports, Music and Art & Deco. Sports has already been tentatively explored with 10272 Old Trafford – Manchester United, but Gen also teases products launching soon in the Music and Art& Deco categories. “We will also be exploring new design aesthetics and new ways of course to express these passion points,” she says.

Existing categories will also continue – Entertainment Properties, Cars & Other Vehicles and Iconic LEGO Models.

The intention is for all adult products to sit together in the LEGO Store and other retail locations, with the new black boxes distinctively marking out the adults’ space in the shop.

Read more from Brick Fanatics at Fan Media Days 2020

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Graham was the Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education. Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.

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