Marketing Lego: Art And Science Begin To Mix

CharlesMcLeish-1Lego’s Charles McLeish said the brand’s first attempt at measuring marketing effectiveness began six years ago and is a constant work in progress.

“We are not limited to screens,” he said during the Advertising Research Foundation’s Industry Leader Forum this week in New York. “TV and online video are a big part, but we also rely on in-store efforts and print magazines.”

Beginning in a research role at Lego 35 years ago and ping ponging between brand management, licensing and marketing services, McLeish and a team of 30 focus on marketing planning and services.

“It was mostly art and very little science,” McLeish remarked when asked about the company’s advancements in data during the day’s panel discussion. That’s been flipped on its head. “As we introduce more science to see what’s working in our marketing mix, we give [our people] permission to ask, ‘To what degree does this match your intuition?’ We want to turn our marketers intro stronger, better marketers.”

McLeish sat down with AdExchanger backstage after his presentation.

AdExchanger: How does marketing to children (and their parents) affect your strategy?

CHARLES MCLEISH: It’s been a multistage journey that’s iterative. … [We’re looking at] data validation, collection, analytical tools/mix modeling and [focusing on] how well the findings/results are integrated into business plans, processes and decisioning. We’ve been refining our tools to the point where they’re increasingly being used to help us make marketing media decisions. Our primary target is children, so we have some restrictions about what we can do with big data.

It is a challenge to get one-on-one data on kids, but we do focus groups with parents and they give permission to their kids to answer questions and you can get to 20 to 30 people that way but that doesn’t necessarily give you a statistical [sample]. In some ways, our consumer sort of self-identifies themselves based on the products they buy. We have a wide variety of brands that span different age groups. Some [identifiers] are IPs and some are not and we notice our different marketing levers have different response levels based on the products themselves, so we’re kind of learning about how to market different products through the consumer sales response, which is, in one sense, the end game anyway. We’d love to learn about all the behavior that goes on between the marketing and the sale, and that remains a little bit of a challenge for us.

We need to look at establishing a CRM that might allow us to talk to the parents as a portal into the whole household. Our CRM, to this point, has been primarily twofold. We have a direct-to-consumer business unit and we also have a consumer affairs group, who handles all the questions and concerns of consumers coming in. Those have been our two primary types of CRM. Our opportunity is to develop a more holistic and comprehensive, marketwide CRM that supports the entire business and integrates all the information that they’re collecting, whether that be direct-to-consumer, consumer affairs -- but which adds more capability and value to the relationship. That opportunity exists, for us, and it’s in the planning stages.

In the panel discussion, you mentioned giving your marketing team the opportunity to ignore “model” results if it doesn’t match their intuition.  

From the standpoint of mix model, I think we’re doing pretty well and we keep getting better and it’s not a quantum leap anymore – it’s refinements. I would say the behavioral, social aspects are something we’re not that good at yet even with adults, because, again, they’re not our primary target. But we need to see if there’s a way to leverage the relationship we have with the parents. Parents see the developmental, educational, nonvideo screen-time value of our products, but I don’t expect them to become quite as engaged as they might with their favorite electronic or other type of brand – like cars. But, we want to be there when they need to refer to us or maybe [show them] how to translate kids’ wish lists into shopping lists.

A hot topic this holiday season is the multiscreen, multidevice consumer. What channel is most valuable to you?

We feel like a real physical and hands-on experience is vital to understand our brand. We like to create physical opportunities to touch our brand, play with it and get to sample it that way. We have a lot of events and efforts that engage with consumers and families not just virtually, but also physically, and I think that helps us stand out in today’s world where everybody’s probably trying to get real efficient [with online] and, admittedly, you can probably argue the physical events maybe aren’t as efficient but they provide a vital connection to us.

We’re experimenting with mobile. We’re not going whole hog. For us, it’s mostly apps and app downloads, but there’s a big opportunity with just portable iPads, tablets and iPods to stay connected with the kids and the parents. We’ve made some good, solid progress, but the journey never ends and that keeps it fun and engaging.

 

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