07 Jul 2021
One of the most popular toy brands is betting on the resurgence of experiential retailing. Lego has just opened a two-story flagship store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
The new location includes Lego installations of famous New York landmarks, a customization studio that allows visitors to make custom portraits out of Lego bricks, and a station to create custom mini-figures, according to one. Forbes article. The site represents a brand-wide move towards a more immersive retail experience, as Lego intends to integrate some of the flagship’s devices into its main stores nationwide.
In addition to the new experiential strategy, Lego has proven it’s not just for kids anymore, wooing older customers through niche-focused partnerships. The brand recently teamed up with Adidas on a limited-edition Lego product aimed at sneakerheads that creates a replica of an Adidas Original Superstar shoe, according to Geekspin.
Lego has some competition when it comes to its appeal to adults. A paid pop-up called Brick Bar, which features themed drinks, DJs, and Instagrammable installations created from off-brand plastic bricks, plans to resume visiting major US cities after being closed due to the pandemic , according to SFist.
Large toy stores have had their ups and downs in recent years in the Big Apple.
In the mid-2010s, two of Midtown Manhattan’s largest flagship experiential toy stores – Toys “R” Us and the iconic FAO Schwarz – both closed. Toys “R” Us cited crushing retail rents as the reason, although the chain suffered from bigger problems and closed all of its stores after going bankrupt in 2017. At the end of 2018, FAO Schwarz opened a new iteration of its product lighthouse at Rockefeller Center.
FAO flagship product Schwarz closed alongside many retail outlets at the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but reopened to customers in August 2020, ABC 7 reported at the time.
However, concerns remain both in New York City and across the country, that restrictions may be reintroduced as the delta variant of the new coronavirus continues to circulate. Such restrictions could negatively impact retailing which focuses on in-store experiences in the short to medium term.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think now is the time for a brand like Lego to open up an experiential flagship and does today’s retail landscape still lend itself to this type of retailing for people? children or adults? Do you see an experiential strategy like the one Lego has planned for NYC across the United States?
“Lego is first and foremost an experiential product, so it is almost imperative that the shopping experience inspires and enables a sense of play.”