Lego’s fight to capture kids imagination in a digital world

More than 80 years since it began work in a small carpenter's workshop, Lego continues to carve its way into the hearts of children.

From physical toys and clothing, to blockbuster movies and theme parks, Lego remains determined to build new ideas off of its small but powerful two-by-four brick — and the work certainly seems to be paying off with consumers.

A child plays with LEGO building blocks while visiting the National Building Museum's exhibit 'Lego Architecture: Towering Ambition' in Washington, DC
Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

In 2015, the toymaker was named the "World's Most Powerful Brand" by Brand Finance, in its ranking of the world's 500 most valuable and most powerful brands. It has since been found in the top 100 of Interbrand's "Best Global Brands 2016" report, and came in third place in the ranking's "top growing brands", behind Facebook and Amazon.

Yet living in a world which is becoming increasingly concentrated by technology, Lego — like any other leading entertainment or toy brand out there — has had to find new ways to keep kids interested and away from constantly being glued to a screen.

For Lego, it means trying to come up with something new for its young audience every year. According to the toymaker's chief marketing officer (CMO) and executive vice president, an array of measures are needed.

"It's social media, it's looking at the trends, it's looking at the themes and what's coming up. And second, we speak to kids directly every week they come over," Lego CMO, Julia Goldin told CNBC's "Marketing Media Money".

"We actually have them over at the development office where we develop the products and we engage with them, we ask kids about the product. We ask kids about what they're into. We show things to them. The best way that we can learn about kids is actually to see what their real lives are like, and ask them what they think about things."

And it's not just children who act as important advocates for future products, but grown-ups — or "Adult Fans of Lego" — too, who come in and propose new content ideas and themes, as well as providing advice for research development.

In addition to sourcing ideas from the public, the brand has teamed up with other brands to release a whole host of products, including goods which tie in with film releases, such as "Lego Jurassic World" and "Lego Disney Princess".

"Our number one priority is always kids," Goldin said, adding that when it comes to advertising new products it's about "creating their desire and making sure they know what are the new products that are coming out and exciting them, engaging them. So that's really always the number one priority."

Where does Lego’s advertising budget go?

However, this quest for innovation remains an important challenge that often keeps Lego's chief marketing officer up at night.

"The biggest challenge that is always something that I think about is the fact that to capture kids imagination and to capture their interest is increasingly more and more challenging," said Goldin.

"There are so many different things that occupy (children). There's so many different things that steal their attention. There are so many different things in which they can engage."

"So I think our job to innovate is probably the most important and the most challenging and that's what keeps me up at night. What's the next big thing? What's the next innovation? What's the next portfolio going to look like? What's the next big theme that's going to engage them?"

Marketing Media Money's interview with Lego's CMO will air on 12 November at 18:00 GMT

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