In order to survive, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) needs to become more than just a bookstore -- and be seen that way by consumers.
The company has embraced that idea by moving aggressively into the specialty toy space and by courting the maker community. Those two areas overlap, at least when it comes to LEGOS.
While the plastic bricks are clearly toys, they are also educational, teaching kids to build, to think creatively, and allowing for imaginative play once the building has finished. That's a different learning model than reading, but it's something the chain has embraced with in-store events.
Now Barnes & Noble has partnered with Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) and The LEGO Group for a three-month celebration of the upcoming animated LEGO Batman Movie. The festivities kick off on Jan. 28 with activities for children ages 5 and over, including a LEGO-inspired building experience, a sing-along, and giveaways. Times for the events will vary from location to location.
Keep the experience going
In theory, by having a three-month promotion with different events, kids will push their parents to bring them to the bookseller multiple times. That might be more tolerable to the adults than most kids events because Batman is a character that appeals to all ages and the first LEGO Movie was popular with grownups as well.
Barnes & Noble has planned trading card giveaways on Feb. 25 and March 11. In addition the chain is incentivizing people to go to all three special events by offering all six collectible cards to anyone who does.
There will be other yet-to-be-announced events offered during the three-month period. In addition, the chain will have displays of related merchandise from the Time Warner movie, LEGO tie-ins, as well as Batman books and comics for all ages.
Will this help?
The LEGO Batman Movie looks to be a near-certain blockbuster for the same reasons the first LEGO Movie was a hit. Parents aren't opposed to seeing it (and may even enjoy it), which makes them willing to take their kids.
This promotion should effectively piggyback off that, which will bring much-needed foot traffic into Barnes & Noble locations. Three months might be a little bit long for any promotion, but parents of young kids are often looking for free events to entertain them, and it's easy to see some taking advantage of this.
Ideas like this won't on their own change Barnes & Noble's fate, but collectively, they may help change customer perceptions about the chain. It already offers much more than books, and events like these can show that off in ways that may bring in repeat business.
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