Saturday, September 30, 2006

Quick brand comparison: Lego vs. Limited Too

My son has been fascinated by Legos as long as I can remember, and as he has moved into his teens, his interest has moved on to the Lego Mindstorms product.

Given the potential of Lego as a brand and the Mindstorm NXT, I am mystified that Lego just doesn't get it when it comes to creating a strong brand as children get older, especially in the US market. There is prime opportunity to create brand awareness and loyalty through some very simple things that many other companies do, such as branded apparel and accessories, as young boys grow into their teens.  The strongest brands create incremental sales and passive marketing through apparel and accessory sales.

One of our summer trips was to Chicago, Illinois, USA – home to a Lego company store.  My son wanted to visit the store all summer, only to be greatly disappointed by the total lack of anything that he could buy that showed his affection for Lego.  No t-shirts, no baseball caps, nothing.  Unless you were an 8-year-old, and maybe there would be something in your size, but one couldn't count on it.

And with the Mindstorm, they still don't get it.  I just discovered that the Bluetooth won't work with their release software on an Intel-based Macintosh running Rosetta.  Hello!  The Intel Macs have been available for over a year before the NXT was released.  I was looking forward to the freedom from the USB cable.

Overall, Lego isn't creating a positive end-user experience on-line, in-store or with their product.  I foresee more plant closings.

Compare this to Limited Too.  My daughter has become semi-obsessed with visiting this store, which isn't so bad, even for a dad.  Granted that there were only two fathers and a half-dozen soccer moms in the store while we were there.

This is a great store for pre-teen and tween girls, with none of the objectionable fashions that are featured at other retailers.  It's a very positive, pro-girl environment, emphasizing cute and stylish clothes and accessories that really appealed to my daughter (and to the parents – we prefer to guide our daughter in modest dressing, not the ho style).  I noticed that the in-store music was all female performers.  They've created a great experience.

My daughter can't wait to go back to the store.  My son on the other hand, won't want to return to the Lego store.  Of course it's all part of growing up.  But clearly one manufacturer doesn't understand about creating consumers for life, and the other: it will only be a matter of time before my daughter wants to visit the Limited.  Time and a few more inches.

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