BEIJING/COPENHAGEN: Lego, the Danish toymaker, has announced a partnership with Tencent, owner of China’s WeChat and one of the biggest mobile games developers in the world, to jointly create online games and possibly a social network for children in China.

According to Reuters, the privately owned company’s sales have struggled worldwide in recent years, but in China, Lego has found a market hungry for the building toy amid sales growth of 25-30% in 2016.

The Financial Times remarked on the deal’s wide-ranging digital partnership that both intend to implement, with the partners aiming to launch their first project this year, likely an online game for Chinese children.

“What we are looking for now with Tencent is just to find more creative ways... (of) reaching children, and creating bespoke content with Tencent, in this case, video games,” Jacob Kragh, Lego’s China chief, told Reuters at an event announcing the partnership in Beijing.

“We’ve seen more and more Chinese children engage with the world digitally, and the partnership will bring them safe and imaginative digital Lego content,” he added to the FT.

Together the companies intend to develop a video zone for children on Tencent’s video platform as well as developing Lego-licensed games. Tencent offers the Danish company considerable financial muscle as well as technology, with a market capitalisation of $537bn.

While Lego has been selling well in China, it enjoys just 3% market share, according to Euromonitor. It believes that the way to build awareness and its brand in the country is by going digital; such was the logic behind the appointment of the country’s latest global CEO, Neils Christiansen, in October.

The company believes that slowing sales are the result of competition from smartphone apps and video games, according to the Wall Street Journal. Recently, it launched Lego Boost, which combines coding with brick-building, a way of bringing together physical and digital ways to engage with its product.

Sourced from Reuters, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff.