Following the announcement of the company’s annual results, LEGO CEO Niels B Christiansen explained how important it is to increase awareness for the brand on China.
The LEGO Group recently announced the company’s annual results, reporting increased revenue and profits for 2018 when compared to 2017. Brickset, the LEGO sets database experts, spoke to Niels B Christiansen, the company’s CEO, to ask about why China is a priority when it comes to opening branded retail outlets.
Brickset asked about the reason for opening LEGO Stores in China, while “certain established markets” do not have LEGO Stores.
“We probably discuss China more often than certain established markets because our presence in those regions is already strong,” the CEO explained. “LEGO already has good partnerships with retailers in New Zealand, for example. China, on the other hand, is a new market for LEGO. I believe brand awareness in large cities such as Beijing or Shanghai is high, almost matching Europe, but our research has established that smaller cities and rural areas are less familiar with LEGO so brand stores are more vital in those regions.”
He went on to say that a similar approach will probably be necessary in India as well, while there may be further expansion on Australia and New Zealand. On the same subject, Brickset asked about the difference in how LEGO Stores are run within Europe.
“That is sometimes for historical reasons but more often because we have found an extremely capable partner,” Christiansen said. “We are not necessarily determined to run every store ourselves but we do require a high level of service in those managed by external partners.”
The website also took the time to ask about the recent regional exclusive sets – 80101 Chinese New Year’s Eve Dinner and 80102 Dragon Dance, with the LEGO leader noting that he is aware of the disappointment. Reception to the products was better than expected, leading to lessons learned for future model choices:
“Our biggest lesson from this experience was probably the universal appeal of East Asian culture. We have often taken inspiration from Western history and culture but there is evidently significant interest surrounding Chinese, Japanese and Korean subjects. After all, NINJAGO is hugely successful around the world but its setting was inspired by Japan.”