The LEGO Group unveiled it’s most experiential store to date recently, a new immersive retail format that aims to strengthen brand love and create memorable experiences people will talk about long after they leave. It’s part of their new ‘retailtainment’ store concept, full of entertainment and retail goods.
The LEGO Group spent two years developing and fine-tuning this new retail concept and researching what shoppers and children want from a LEGO store visit, with at least half of that time having been during a pandemic. The research revealed that people were keen for more opportunities to play with bricks, participate in brick-inspired activities, personalize their experience and have fun.
Located at Rockefeller Center in New York City, the two-story, 7,175 square foot flagship blends a dazzling array of digital and physical experiences designed to inspire creativity and imagination among kids and adults alike. The design team has developed unique customer touch-points allowing for more hands-on experiences that are unique to the brand. They are blending the very best of ground-breaking customization, technology and physical play, allowing visitors to interact with the brand in exciting new ways and also drive a deeper connection aiming to create a destination rather than just a shopping convenience.
Each visitor has the chance to meet LEGO characters on screen and they build their own creation, scan their build and then watch it become a living part of the ‘Brick Lab’. The ‘Personalization Studio’ allows visitors to reimagine themselves in LEGO form either as a portrait via the ‘Mosaic Maker’ which captures the image and creates a portrait in a few minutes. They can also create their very own personalized mini-figurine, see it being built and take home as a souvenir. Last but not least, a zone called ‘Lego Expression’, where visitors can stand in front of a screen and interact with LEGO minifigures who mimic their facial expressions.
Experiential retail was a hot topic in the industry before the Covid-19 pandemic. But since the pandemic began, online sales have surged and many brick-and-mortar retail stores have closed their doors permanently. Public health mandates are now being eased, restrictions are being lifted and most North American cities are going back to business as usual.
“The truth is that physical stores are poised to make a big comeback, and Experiential Retail is far from irrelevant in 2021,” says Mardi Najafi, Figure3’s Director, Retail Design. “In fact, the pandemic has only accelerated the process of reinventing the store and adapting to new customer expectations and innovations.” With customers eager to return to stores and the widespread availability of digitally enhanced solutions, retailers should empower their teams and prepare them for a reopening with waves of experience-savvy customers.
Online shopping may have a convenience factor but lacks that brand connection with consumers. “It’s like a long distance relationship,” says Najafi. Physical retail generates brand awareness and also, specific aspects of experiential retail such as trying, tasting, touching, smelling or sizing items. Most importantly, brand connection and the immediate impression of a brand’s values can most impactfully be felt in a physical setting. “Without doubt the focus of the new LEGO flagship store is on nurturing and building lifelong fans, with transactions being secondary!”