Lego Enters China Classrooms as Other Markets Slow

Toymaker Lego hopes to build a following with parents in China through promoting its place in Chinese classrooms as well as in children’s toy boxes.

The Danish toymaker, famous for its building blocks made in bright colors, has been working with Chinese educations departments, providers of private education as well as state schools to entice kids to play with the Lego as a method of boosting motor skills, attention spans and creativity.

The push in the classroom across China goes far beyond what the company is doing in other markets partly as a way to follow along the disciplined focus the country has on learning, but as well a reflection of how the market has boomed as U.S and Europe growth slows.

In addition, it plays along with the desires of parents in China to give a competitive edge to their children even while they are still very young.

One parent said she has been purchasing Lego blocks for her son, who is eight, since he was just two and now is sending him each weekend to Lego classes. She enjoys the fact that students are able to learn specific skills like science and computing while they play.

The focus toward learning, in a market well known for an education that is rigid and exam oriented that piles on the homework, could help the toymaker in China as business softens in other markets.

In September, the toymaker announced that it would cut 8% of its workforce and restructure its business following the reporting of its first decline in sales in over a decade, and weakness present in the U.S. and Europe.

The most recent figures for revenue at Lego, for the first six months of 2017, showed a drop of 5% to $2.5 billion in comparison for the same six-month period in 2016.

The toy market in China in 2017 was estimated to be $9.6 billion, with growth of 10% compared to 2016. The preschool part of its education for-profit market by itself is predicted to reach $85.3 billion in 2020.

Lego in China is competing with Mattel, Hasbro and Alpha Group the leader of the local market. It opened a plant during 2016 and in January signed a new deal with Tencent the tech giant to develop new games.

Education together with doing things that are fun is appealing to local education systems, as they try to find new ways to broaden curriculums.