Lego can combat stress

Lego can combat stress

Busy work schedule getting you down? Dreading an ever-growing list of errands? Whatever it is that’s causing your pulse to rise and sending your stress hormone production into overdrive, an innovative advertising campaign courtesy of Lego might be worth a look.

Lego has long enjoyed legions of adult fans (AFOLs), but it’s only recently that your average twenty-something or middle-ager might have admitted to an affection for the ever-popular building bricks. With new lines of Lego sets designed and marketed towards the grown-up market, year-on-year toy spending by adults purchasing for themselves is up. What’s more, a constant wave of nostalgia and yearning for all things yesterday has put the likes of Lego back on the map for the adult market. However, beyond big kids pining for playtime and connoisseur keen to build their collections, another demographic with an appetite for Lego has developed. This new following makes no excuses for playing with toys, nor is it preoccupied with collecting sets and keeping them unopened and untouched in their boxes. Rather, it’s all about de-stressing from the daily grind and letting Lego help instil a little inner peace.

Lego’s latest advertising venture to target the adult toy-buying market has this group squarely in its sights. The core narrative is simple enough. It centres on a young woman, worn out from the demands of work and drained from daily life, seeking some peace and quiet. She runs through the usual methods of kick-starting a feeling of peace and tranquillity, busting out tried and tested staples like yoga. However, the effort of exercising only adds to her strain. Ditching the usual approaches, our lead millennial hits upon another idea instead and is soon seen immersed in the construction of a Lego building set.

Suffice to say, the Lego kit has the calming effect she’s been so desperately seeking. As if we need any more evidence of its de-stressing credentials, captions pop up on screen: “Need an escape?” it begins, before highlighting how Lego can reduce stress and improve overall well-being. The ad rounds things up with: “It’s zen, in the shape of a brick.”

With its identifiable protagonist and her sympathetic situation, this snappy ad campaign gets right to the point and hones in on the exact market slice that Lego is trying to entice. Adults spending money on toys for their own use has never been higher, accounting for approximately 10% of all toy spending in the UK. Furthermore, it’s a trend that’s been on the rise for some time, with year-on-year increases in the amount being spent by self-declared big kids. And it’s a trend with no sign of stopping anytime soon. In the past two years alone, purchases of toys by adults buying for themselves have stacked up to nearly £30 million. Hardly small change.

Adults seeking out toys for themselves tend to go for model-making kits and other creative products with a practical edge. Lego, a dominant presence in this category, has therefore scooped a sizeable portion of this market. More complex sets with pieces numbering in the thousands have already enticed the older demographic, while all manner of licensed and themed sets have stirred nostalgia. It was only a matter of time before Lego finally began developing products purely for the adult market.

Whether it’s unashamed playtime or stress-busting strategy, playing with Lego is undeniably enjoyable. It can stir up happy memories from childhood and simpler times and keep busy fingers occupied for hours with endless build possibilities. But Lego can also provide a much needed point of focus for those looking to calm an anxious mind and alleviate stress-related symptoms. The reasons are incredibly simple and underscored by the basic principles of the building blocks. Lego is tactile and user-friendly, captivating with its vibrant colours, while also providing complete freedom when it comes to constructing mini masterpieces. Once a build is finished, the fruit of your labours can be displayed proudly, or broken down to its basic parts so you can start from scratch.

The NPD Group, a consumer research agency based in the United Kingdom, conducted a survey into the relaxing effects of the popular construction toy and how much its adult users find it contributes to their feeling of well-being. Through their studies, the NPD Group reported that more than 90% of adults who use Lego find it had a positive effect on their well-being. What’s more, 86% of adults surveyed commented on how playing with Lego makes them feel more relaxed.

Lego’s latest marketing outreach isn’t just in response to survey results like these or by the scaling up of sales figures. Rather, it’s a savvy business move that’s taken note of adults returning to traditionally childhood activities as a way to escape the stress of modern life. Only a few years ago, there was a boom in adults buying colouring books to use themselves, which was then followed by a wave of books specially tailored for the adult market. Jigsaws, while always appealing to a broader age range, have also seen a similar resurgence in popularity with the adult market.

The reasons for this return to simpler pastimes is more than pure nostalgia. It can be seen as a response to the digital era we now find ourselves in, one where entire days are dominated by laptop screens, tablet swipes and smartphones. The practical, hands-on nature of Lego sets and similar toys keeps the mind occupied with the task at hand, pushing out other concerns for the time being. What’s more, products like Lego represent a very real and physical pursuit for people, a marked difference from disposable digital content that’s just a single swipe or mouse click away from being refreshed or dispenses for something new.

Lego’s Creative Play Lab, an in-house initiative that spearheads the design of new products, has taken note of this change in thinking and renewed interest by the grown-up demographic. The Creative Play Lab is the brains behind some of the very first Lego products produced purely with adult users in mind. A variety of pilot concepts have been unveiled by the team, with the likes of LEGO FORMA among the first to spark interest and be fast-tracked to limited production. Aside from offering a more involved and comparatively more complex challenge than conventional LEGO sets, releases like the FORMA invite users to engage with others from the Lego community online. There, they can share the results of their own endeavours, gain new ideas and inspiration, or simply just chat with other lovers of Lego.

While the Creative Play Lab is working on projects for consumers of all ages, this innovative approach to product design and production puts the manufacturer in direct communication with an adult audience that’s active online. The same consumer activity that led to its “It’s zen, in the shape of a brick” captioned ad campaign can now inform future iterations of the iconic construction toy. As more working adults bear the brunt of a work-life balance that leaves little time for relaxation, the need for escapism will only increase. Lego has already demonstrated itself as an ideal antidote for such a situation, while recent focus on its new market from the manufacturer suggests there’s plenty more in store for those looking to Lego for a way to relax.