I have to admit, most of the time when a catalog arrives in the mail, it finds its way pretty quickly to the recycling pile. Like many people, we seem to be on every retailer’s mailing list because we get a lot of catalogs, most of them for things I don’t ever plan to buy.
A few weeks ago, however, a LEGO catalog arrived in the mail. I don’t ever remember getting one in the past and–like all the others–it too was destined for the pile until something about it caught my eye.
As I flipped through it quickly, there was a lot of what I expected. There were Star Wars sets, and Harry Potter sets, and even Super Mario Brothers sets. In the middle, however, there was a section with two words that I didn’t expect: “Adults Welcome.”
It was a section full of LEGO sets designed for adults. What was amazing about the sets is that they weren’t necessarily more complicated. It was that they were all designed to be something that would resonate with someone older than what you might think of as the typical LEGO customer.
There was a Fender Stratocaster and a guitar amplifier. There’s a typewriter, and the Seinfeld set. There’s the famous Home Alone house, a replica of The White House, and the Titanic, which, with more than 9,000 pieces, is by far the largest set in the catalog.
It’s an interesting marketing tactic for a toy company. We usually think of toys, LEGO sets included, as something for children. Except, as should be obvious to all of us, everyone who is an adult today was at some point a child. And, chances are, when they were they built things with LEGO bricks.
The fact that they’re now grown up doesn’t change the fact that all the things they loved about building with LEGO sets are still the same. Almost everyone enjoys the experience of building something with LEGO bricks.
Part of that is because LEGO does a great job of creating sets that connect with its customers. Whether it’s a scene from a popular movie, your favorite action characters, or a video game, LEGO designs its sets around the things people already love. Recreating them with LEGO bricks is just a way of re-experiencing them.
One of the reasons LEGO is such a powerful brand is that you can use LEGO bricks to build just about anything. In that way, LEGO is more than a toy company. In many ways, it’s a “re-live meaningful experiences” company. People buy LEGO sets because of the experience of building something meaningful to them. Whether that’s expressing a creative idea, or putting together a LEGO Baby Yoda.
That’s why, of all the things LEGO does really well, partnering with other companies and brands that we associate with childhood and entertainment is maybe the most brilliant part of all. Even for adults that association is powerful.
A Home Alone house set isn’t that meaningful if you haven’t seen the movie. If you watched it 30 years ago, when it came out, there’s a pretty good chance it reminds you of a positive memory from your childhood. The same is true for all of the featured sets in the catalog. All of them are meant to appeal to the childlike sense of wonder and delight we associate with certain experiences.
That’s the point, really. With just those two words, LEGO reminded everyone that you’re never too old to be creative or to build something. It reminded everyone that it’s okay to play, even if you’re all grown up. For a company that most people think of as a maker of children’s toys, “adults welcome” is a brilliant reminder of why we love the brand in the first place.