“For a number of years we’ve seen the trend towards people visiting stores for high-quality, entertaining brand experiences. Over the past year our fans have missed personal and tactile interactions with the brand and we can’t wait to welcome them back,” Colette Burke, chief commercial officer at The Lego Group, said in a statement about the opening.
While Lego’s existing store format has been successful for the brand, Burke spoke of a desire to evolve the concept “to strengthen brand love” and create memorable experiences.
“We want people to walk into our stores and feel immersed in a world of Lego bricks. We’ve designed the spaces to fire up creativity and imagination and encourage hands-on play. Our talented designers have developed entirely new experiences that blend the very best of ground-breaking customisation, technology and physical play allowing visitors to interact with the brand in exciting new ways,” she said.
The store features a world-first retail experience, known as Brick Lab, which allows visitors to bring Lego builds into a virtual world, where physical surroundings are brought to life through light and music. In a 20-minute themed game-style experience, virtual characters guide each visitor through their mission.
An interactive Tree of Discovery, made from 880,000 Lego pieces, takes centre stage in a nod to Lego’s efforts to have a positive impact on the planet, and New York landmarks, from the Empire State Building to Times Square, take Lego form, alongside Marvel superheroes Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man and more.
Of course, the experiences are not just for kids. Lego has catered to its ever-growing adult fan base, many of whom turned to Lego to relieve stress during the pandemic. An interactive Storytelling Table has been designed for adults interested in learning the stories behind Lego’s product designs and prototypes and to virtually ‘meet’ Lego designers.
And as part of its efforts to create long-lasting memories, visitors can create personalised souvenirs, such as a Lego self-portrait in mosaic form at the Personalisation Studio or a Lego Minifigure that can be brought to life on screen to mimic their creator’s facial expressions.
The power of entertainment
Given the significant changes to the purpose of a retail store in recent times, Vanessa Canceri, retail strategist and director at retail property consultancy We Wondr, believes ‘retailtainment’ is the most powerful multimedia channel a retail brand has.
“It is where a brand solidifies a relationship with its customers, and its customers in turn are treated to an exciting and unique set of experiences and services. We have seen this new format evolving for some time … today’s consumer expects to be entertained while they shop in-store,” she told Inside Retail.
Canceri says Lego has held nothing back in bringing fun into this experience and likens The Brick Lab technology to something you would “expect at a Disneyland ride”, never mind a retail store.
Danny Lattouf, partner and chief strategy officer at retail strategy agency The General Store, also applauded Lego’s efforts in injecting fun into the physical retail experience.
“It reinforces the need for retailers to push the boundaries of bricks-and-mortar retail to ensure you’re rewarding the customer with the best possible experience if they choose to invest their time and energy by visiting your store,” Lattouf told Inside Retail.
“In a category like Lego, if we’re not generating fun, memorable and share-worthy experiences in-store, then we miss the massive opportunity to create immersive and delightful engagement which inevitably delivers invaluable and unmatched brand love.”
Canceri advises retailers to blur the line between the digital and physical store experience.
“In-store, they are wanting convenience and choice in terms of how they transact, with options for when they have time and when they don’t,” she said.
“Brands who tell their story in immersive creative ways are winning hearts and wallets, as well as loyalty.”
The Lego Group currently has 731 branded stores across 50 countries and plans to open 120 new stores during this calendar year. This modular and flexible store format has been designed to be introduced in stores of all sizes, as well as in retail partners’ stores.