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How LEGO Conquered the Adult Market (And Why You Should Care)

LEGO, long known for its colourful bricks and playful creations, has made a remarkable strategic shift in recent years. The company, traditionally associated with children’s toys, has successfully expanded its reach to target adults thanks to their new marketing strategy. 

This article explores the reasons behind LEGO’s strategic decision to target adults and analyses how this shift has become a winning strategy for the company, contributing to a 27% increase in revenue in 2021 and solidifying LEGO’s position as the world’s largest toy company.

A man is building the Red London Telephone Box LEGO set.
Image source: LEGO

Understanding the Potential of the Adult Market for LEGO

LEGO’s strategic shift towards targeting adults was fueled by a keen understanding of evolving consumer trends and market potential:

Remember the boundless creativity of childhood?

As children, we were unburdened by the constant decision-making and responsibilities that define adulthood. Back then, LEGO symbolised the joy of limitless imagination, and their early ads encouraged letting that creativity run wild with their colourful bricks.

But adulthood brings a different kind of need.

We often crave structure and guidance in a world filled with choices and complexities. LEGO for Adults taps into this by offering not just the familiar joy of building with bricks, but also clear instructions and a sense of accomplishment.

It’s a reminder that the satisfaction of creation and the joy of following a clear path haven’t disappeared entirely.

By understanding and capitalising on these evolving consumer preferences, LEGO has successfully transformed itself from a children’s toy company to a brand that resonates with and engages a whole new generation of builders.

The New LEGO Customer Segmentation Strategy

LEGO’s strategic shift hinged on a new customer segmentation strategy—targeting adults. This approach was driven by innovative product development and a focus on building a dedicated adult fan base.  

Product Diversification

LEGO diversified its offerings with “adult-oriented” sets, catering to their unique preferences:

  • Higher difficulty and complex builds: These sets offer challenging building experiences, providing adults with intellectual stimulation and a sense of accomplishment.
  • Collectible value and display-worthy aesthetics: Many sets boast collectible value and stunning aesthetics, transforming them into prized possessions and conversation starters.
  • Licensed themes: Popular licensed themes like Star Wars and Harry Potter tap into adult nostalgia and fandom, creating a connection to cherished memories and beloved characters.

LEGO Marketing and Community Building Strategy

LEGO leverages targeted social media campaigns to reach adult audiences effectively. These campaigns often utilise humour, nostalgia, and references relevant to adult interests. LEGO is essentially targeting stressed-out adults:

“Adults with high-pressured jobs are telling us they’re using LEGO to disconnect from the mania of the day. They’re looking for a relaxing, calming experience — and they like instructions because that’s what helps them be in the zone.”

Genevieve Capa Cruz

Audience Marketing Strategist at LEGO

Additionally, the company fosters a strong sense of community through:

  • Online communities: Dedicated online platforms connect adult fans, allowing them to share creations, discuss building techniques, and engage with each other.
  • AFOL events: LEGO organises events like conventions and workshops specifically for Adult Fans of LEGO, further solidifying the brand’s connection with this growing demographic.

By fostering a sense of belonging, engagement, and brand loyalty within these communities, LEGO has successfully integrated adults into its customer base, solidifying its position as a multi-generational brand.

The Impact of Targeting Adults 

The strategic shift in LEGO’s targeting strategy yielded significant benefits:

Sales and Revenue Growth

Targeting adults unlocked a new market segment for LEGO, leading to substantial growth in sales and revenue. This expansion diversified LEGO’s income stream and fostered financial stability.

LEGO reported a revenue of DKK 55.3 billion in 2021, which is a 27% increase from the previous year. The following year, its 90th anniversary, LEGO’s revenue grew by 17%, reaching DKK 64.6 billion. This steady growth was attributed, in part, to the increased popularity of “adult-oriented” LEGO sets.

“The good thing for us is that every year over the last four or five years, we’ve been outgrowing the market by 10 percentage points… That means we’ve been taking market share consistently and that has continued, that’s super important.” told the CEO Niels Christiansen to CNBC in 2023.

Brand Image and Innovation

Catering to adults elevated LEGO’s brand image, positioning it as a sophisticated and multifaceted brand. This shift also spurred innovation, leading to the development of new product lines and marketing strategies. For example, LEGO introduced the “Creator Expert” and “Ideas” lines in response to the adult market, featuring complex sets with display-worthy aesthetics.

Market Share and Brand Loyalty

LEGO expanded its market share by successfully engaging adults and securing long-term brand loyalty. This broader customer base allows them to weather market fluctuations and maintain a strong brand presence.

LEGO’s consumer sales grew 3% in the first half of 2023 in a market that declined by 7%, meaning it outperformed competitors like Hasbro and Mattel.

What the Future Holds for LEGO

LEGO’s customer segmentation strategy serves as a powerful example of adaptability and innovation. By understanding the potential of a new audience and tailoring its approach accordingly, LEGO built a loyal and diverse customer base, solidifying its place as a multi-generational toy company.

However, the future of this market segment also presents potential challenges. Ensuring product variety, addressing evolving consumer preferences, and maintaining a balance between catering to adults and children will be crucial for LEGO’s continued success in this space.

Want to Learn More About Segmenting Your Customer Base for Success?

Segmentify can help! Book a demo to discover how our platform can empower you to create targeted campaigns, personalise experiences, and drive deeper engagement with every customer segment.

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