LEGO Group’s Executive Vice President, Americas, Skip Kodak spoke with the Toy Book about strategies to innovate in the construction category, the importance of licensed products, and more.

How does LEGO come up with new and innovative takes on existing lines to keep them fresh and exciting for consumers?
Our designers are always looking for ways to reinvent existing LEGO elements to become completely new expressions of creative play for any audience. We look for gaps in the market — either audience gaps or product gaps — to inspire LEGO solutions that can fill a true need. We sometimes do so with digital overlays or new themes and licensed properties, but sometimes it’s [about] thinking differently about our core play experience. LEGO Dots is a prime example of reinventing the LEGO system to deliver a fresh and exciting play opportunity for kids who look for a different kind of self-expression than our traditional 3D building. With the subtle tweak of putting our existing 2D tile pieces front and center, Dots enables us to bring a compelling arts-and-crafts expression to life with all of the versatility and repeatability that LEGO play delivers. Creating 2D patterns with LEGO tiles, kids can personalize everything from bracelets and frames to pencil holders and storage boxes. Our research uncovered the opportunity, our designers rose to the challenge, and the market is lending tremendous launch support to make our Dots innovation a tentpole this year.

Last year was packed with blockbuster movies, from Avengers: Endgame to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. This year doesn’t have as many major releases on the calendar. What impact, if any, do you think this will have on licensed product sales?
Theatrical events are always great to plan around, but they’re not the only thing that can drive sales of licensed products — it really depends on the property. We strategically assemble a balanced portfolio of properties in any given year to leverage the passion people have for their favorite characters and stories. Last year, we saw the box office benefit of Avengers: Endgame, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Frozen 2 reflected in our sales, but we’re also sure to bring less event-driven properties — such as Harry Potter, Minecraft, and Overwatch — to market to drive steady momentum. While there are fewer theatricals this year, we’re confident that the mix we’ve got will drive continued sales growth. This year, we’re adding theatrical-based themes, such as Trolls, Minions, and Fast & Furious, balanced by strong evergreens, such as Star Wars and Batman.   

This State of the Industry Q&A response originally appeared in the February 2020 issue of the Toy Book. Click here to read more!