Picture: LEGO
Picture: LEGO

The Lego Group’s recent announcement of the launch of Lego Life, a safe social network for children under the age of 13, is an interesting reflection on how brands can best market themselves in the age of social media – particularly when it comes to targeting younger consumers.

MD at youth specialist agency HDI Youth Marketeers, Catherine Bothma, explains that consumers don’t want to be “sold at” – and this is particularly true of the younger market. They’d much rather be immersed in brand stories and experiences. She says children respond well when a brand enters their world in a way they find interesting and adds value. By adding a social layer, the brand allows consumers to engage with it on a more personal level. Users also have the power to gain access to and engage with the brand anywhere and at any time.

However, Bothma says it is up to the brand to uphold the reputation it reflects on social media platforms. “Before a brand jumps onto the social media band wagon, it must understand that with social media, relevant and authentic content is key – giving consumers interesting content that they can relate to makes it more likely that they will share it and interact with it,” she says.

When it comes to creating a social media platform for children as Lego has done, Bothma says the security, safety and wellbeing of its users should be the key concern. Lego Life has taken several precautions to protect the safety of children on the platform, ensuring that the users are prevented from sharing any personal information. Specialists monitor the site constantly to ensure that all content is child appropriate, after having undergone training on the brand and on child safety. Parents are also encouraged to speak to children about digital safety.

Bothma says brands with a social presence should look for ways to play a constructive role in the lives of youth. This means not encouraging them to buy things they don’t need and their parents probably wouldn’t want them to have. To be a responsible marketer, she says, brands should get to the heart of what youth want or need, coming from a place of integrity – whether the content is educational, mentally or physically stimulating or purely for recreational fun. Being responsible means brands should foresee the effect their brand communication could have on the youth. It should be uplifting and empowering and should please both young consumers and their guardians.

Any new social media platform is bound to be a hit in this market, says Bothma. “This generation of youth are digital natives – their phones are their ‘third kidney’ ”.

Children don’t like being treated differently from adults. Since they are excluded from other social media platforms that are age restricted (most have an over-13 age limit), they will probably jump at the chance to engage with something that caters specifically for them.

In Lego’s favour is the fact that the brand already has a good reputation across generations, so parental consent should be relatively easy to obtain. And, if the platform helps the users to excel at play as well as equipping them with strategic skills, it’s likely to create even greater loyalty, she says.

The big take-out: Lego’s launch of Lego Life shows that there is value in developing a digital platform for children, provided the content adds value and relevance to their lives.

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