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Old Toy – New Market

Students explore the LEGOLAND theme parks and demonstrate an understanding of how new markets can be created and that cultural and social differences can affect these markets.

Introduction

landHave you ever played the board game, Monopoly? Did you know it's over 65 years old? Even though it is an American toy, it is now sold in 80 countries and translated into 26 languages. Another toy that's been around a long time are LEGOs. This toy, developed in Denmark, is also a worldwide favorite. There are now LEGO theme parks, known as LEGOLANDS. After this lesson, you will see how the LEGO Company and Parker Brothers (who produce the Monopoly game) expanded their markets.

Learning Objectives

  • Demonstrate how new markets can be created for old products.
  • Explore multicultural differences in products.

Resource List

Process

  1. denmarkContinue the introductory discussion: Did you know that many of the same toys you play with in the United States are enjoyed by children around the world? In fact, many of our favorite toys are not even produced in the United States. The LEGOs toys are actually from Denmark and are sold all over the world. Read about how the LEGOs was invented .
     
  2. Tell the children about the rise of LEGOLANDS: For over 30 years, the LEGO Company made only toys and related goods. Then in 1968, the company opened its first LEGOLAND – in its home city of Billund, Denmark. Now there are four LEGOLANDs around the world.

    At LEGOLANDs around the world, children can build things with thousands of LEGOs. They can also enjoy roller coasters, build robots, and even power their own rides. At LEGOLANDs and other amusement parks, no good is produced but a service, entertainment, is provided. To see what you can do at a LEGOLAND, click on some of the rides and attractions at

  3. Ask: Which of the rides would you like best? Have you ever visited a LEGOLAND theme park? Do you think your family would like to visit one?
     
  4. Continue the discussion: With the LEGOLAND theme parks, the LEGO Company is now more than just a toy company; it is an entertainment company. Can you think of another company that has theme parks as well as other goods? [The Disney Company produces cartoons and movies as well as operating its theme parks DisneyWorld and Disneyland.] Both LEGOS and Disney operate theme parks in different countries around the world.

    Parker Brothers has undergone a similar expansion with their popular board game, Monopoly. The company has been selling this game outside the United States for years. Many countries adopt their own currency and property names. To see what one of the favorite Monopoly locations, Boardwalk, is called in some different countries, see Monopoly's Fun Facts Page. Even in the United States, Monopoly has made changes. For many years, there was only an English edition of the game available here in the United States. What other language do you think now has a U.S. edition? [Spanish] Why do think this version is now sold here?[Because of the growing population of Spanish-speaking people in the United States]
     

  5. Introduce the concept of cultural differences: To be successful in different countries, businesses must be aware of cultural and social differences. What is acceptable or appropriate in one country may not be acceptable or appropriate in another country. Food, for example, varies a great deal from country to country, and these differences are important to some businesses. There are McDonald's restaurants in India, for example, but these McDonald's do not sell beef burgers because many Indian people are Hindus and the cow is a sacred animal according to Hindu religious teachings.
     
  6. Elaborate this point by asking the students to find other examples: Take a look at some actual menu items that come from the restaurants in LEGOLAND Deutschland (located in Germany) Do you see any dishes that would be considered unusual here in the United States? [Possibly potato pancakes; doner kebaps – (a kind of beef or lamb sandwich); pig trotters – (another name for pig's feet;) Swabian specialties – (refers to Swabia, – a historical region of Southwest Germany that originally included parts of France and Switzerland and has its own unique cuisine).
     
  7. Contrast these menu items with items from the United States: Now let's look at some actual menu items offered at restaurants in LEGOLAND California. Do you see any foods there you don't recognize? [Probably not.]
     
  8. Explore the contrast:

    • Why do you think the food choices differ between LEGOLAND Deutschland and LEGOLAND, California? [People in Germany and California have a different cultural background and eat different kinds of food.]
    • Do you think LEGOs is smart to offer different food choices? [Yes, because if people can't find foods they like or are familiar with, they might not enjoy the park as much and might not spend as much money on food while in the park.]
    • Do you notice any menu items that are available at both parks? [Pizza, ice cream, hamburgers, sandwiches, French fries.]
    • Why do you think that these items are offered at both parks. [These are food items that are popular around the world.]
       

[Note: It would be helpful to have some actual LEGOs on hand to demonstrate their building properties. Students might be challenged to think how other markets are impacted by related products such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Toy Story.]

Conclusion

The students should complete the questions in the activity below.

View Interactive Activity

  1. How did the LEGOs Company create a new market for its old toy, LEGOs?
    [When the company created LEGOLANDs, it was not just selling toys but selling entertainment to both children and their parents.]
     
  2. How did Parker Brothers expand their market for the U.S. boardgame, Monopoly? [The Parker Brothers translated the game into many languages and adapted it to other countries' cultures in order to sell well in those countries. They recognized the changing
    U.S. population and offered a Spanish language version here.
    ]
     
  3. Why do you think companies, such as Disney or LEGO have decided to go into new markets? [The answers will vary, but the answer should relate to the ability of the company to make more profits or reach customers they might not otherwise reach, such as adults. Profit is the difference between total revenue and total costs.]
     
  4. If a company decides to go into a market, why should it consider the social and cultural aspects of that market? [In order to be successful in a market, a company must provide what consumers want. Since social and cultural characteristics influence consumer taste and vary widely across the world, some changes are necessary to reflect what the tastes and preferences are of the consumers in that market or location.]

Assessment

  • Suppose a new LEGOLAND is built in Japan. Why would this represent a new market for the company? [Currently there are no LEGOLANDS in Asia so the company would be reaching many new Asian consumers not previously reached.]
  • You have been asked to develop a restaurant for this new park in Japan. Create a menu, complete with the name of the restaurant and some dishes that you think would be popular with Japanese and Asian park visitors as well as with European and American visitors.