On January 15, Danish toy giant Lego announced a new partnership with Chinese internet firm Tencent. The collaboration will focus on a broad range of digital content and should help Lego make further inroads into a rapidly growing Asian market.
Despite being one of the world’s most recognisable toymakers, Lego has witnessed a slowdown in global sales in recent years. Sales in China, however, have bucked the trend, growing 25 to 30 percent year-on-year. It is hoped by working with Tencent – Asia’s most valuable company – Lego can continue its upward momentum.
Specifically, there are plans for the development of a Lego video zone using Tencent’s video platform, the publication of Lego-branded video games and the launch of an online coding platform called Lego Boost. In addition, the two companies will focus on improving online safety through the creation of Lego Life, a social network that allows kids to share their Lego creations in a protected environment.
The collaboration with Tencent will focus on a broad range of digital content and should help Lego make further inroads into a rapidly growing Asian market
“We are very pleased to form the partnership with Tencent,” said Jacob Kragh, General Manager of Lego China. “We’ve seen more and more Chinese children engage with the world digitally, and the partnership will bring them safe and imaginative digital Lego content that also supports their needs of learning, development and entertainment.”
Despite recent sales growth, the Lego brand remains relatively unknown in China, something that will need to change if the company wants to claim a bigger slice of the estimated $31bn domestic toys and games market. The Danish firm has ambitious plans for the region, however, and opened a factory in the east of the country back in November 2016.
Lego and Tencent’s focus on digital content is also telling. Although there remains a place for old-fashioned physical toys, children are engaging with technology at an increasingly young age. Lego is no longer just competing with Action Man and Barbie; it is now vying with social media and mobile apps for our children’s attention.