When it comes to global domination, Lego has succeeded where other brands have failed. As part of The Drum’s Globalization Deep Dive, we catch up with the brand’s chief product and marketing officer, Julia Goldin, who tells us how it balances creative marketing in local markets, and why a well-planned supply chain is crucial.
When you think of Lego, you probably reminisce about playing with its colorful bricks as a child, or with your own children. You may even think of its exhaustive IP, which stretches across gaming, films and beyond. For a marketer, it’s the gold standard in creative, purposeful marketing. But its success is also down to a well-planned supply chain – something chief marketer Julia Goldin is thankful for.
As many countries face potential product shortages over the Christmas and festive period, no amount of marketing wizardry will be able to conjure up a fix in time.
Quick response to consumer demand
“During the past 10 years, we’ve invested in a global supply chain network,” explains Goldin. ”We have five manufacturing plants on three continents located close to our markets. This means we’re able to ship products across relatively short distances and respond quickly to shifting consumer demand.”
This has helped Lego during a year blighted by challenges to international operations. “Over the past year, we’ve expanded capacity at these facilities and extended warehousing facilities, which has enabled us to keep up with sustained strong demand. So as a marketer, I’m very grateful to our operations team for the way they have structured and developed the footprint of our global operations so that we continue to be well-placed to maintain supply, despite external factors such as capacity constraints in the global shipping market.”
For a marketer, that means all your hard work doesn’t have to go to waste. What’s the point in driving demand if it cannot be met? And what’s the cost to the customer experience?
“The operational setup of marketing is very important so that we can ensure consistency and focus to support our strong global brand at the same time as remaining relevant and engaging in every market. It is critical to have a global marketing team to help create consistency across campaigns, but we also need local teams that understand their audience and are empowered to develop their own activations that can tap into cultural moments – such as key gift-giving occasions – or respond to local trends and events.
”Global marketing leadership and strong connection between local and global teams allow us to innovate our marketing approaches with speed, consistency and effectiveness. It also facilitates a strong best practice sharing and learning culture.”
This fluid but strong connection between global and local has been powering Lego’s global growth. Goldin explains that, on a more top-level, the brand keeps its focus on the purpose-led values of creativity, fun, imagination, caring, quality and learning, which are universally understood and embraced. It then takes these and allows local markets to adapt to nuance.
Ready for girls
The brand recently launched a major global campaign, ‘Ready for Girls‘, which is based on research that found girls are ready to unshackle gender stereotypes in play, but aren’t always able to. Research was conducted in China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Poland, Russia, the UK and US in a bid to understand how these insights apply across different markets.
“This allows us to always work from the same foundation when developing global campaigns. For this specific research by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, the cross-country insights are also very consistent, which just goes to prove how the message behind ‘Ready for Girls‘ has global relevance. However, there will always be nuances in markets that require a tailored approach or specific campaigns that will resonate in some markets more than others.
“We believe there is a need for society to rebuild perceptions, actions and words to support the creative empowerment of all children and that the Lego Group has an important role to play in this process. ‘Ready for Girls’ is one of a number of initiatives we have put into place to clearly show that we want every child to feel welcome and represented across the Lego universe, ensuring they aren’t losing out on the benefits of Lego play due to outdated gender stereotypes.”
The campaign will be activated across local markets in various ways – some involving partnerships with different organizations and others involving partnerships with local female spokespeople.
The agency set up
As to how the brand enacts this promise of global and local from a marketing perspective, Goldin says its internal agency – The Lego Agency – has been well set up for this.
“We have a strong global brand and a global approach to marketing. The Lego Agency is involved in developing all our global campaigns and ensures the consistency of our messaging and brand voice. We are also supported by a global media agency. At the same time, we remain very consumer-centric and therefore our local teams across the different markets play a key role in ensuring that our global campaigns are tailored and executed locally in a relevant and exciting way for their specific audiences.”
Across the globe, the last quarter of the year represents a significant gift-giving opportunity for many brands as festive milestones accumulate. Lego is already well set up for this opportunity, but Goldin says it has even more plans for expansion, particularly around the shopping experience
“We recognize that people are looking for unique and memorable physical brand experiences, so we continue to invest in elevating our in-store shopping experiences as well as expand our global retail footprint. This approach strengthens our brand, creating a positive impact across all channels. We are also building our e-commerce capabilities to support online shopping on our own and our partners’ platforms.”
The operational challenges for brands that want to grow globally will persist, but examples like Lego show that a closer relationship between supply chain, product development and marketing is essential.