When LEGOs first arrived on the toy market in 1958, they were designed to appeal to all children, with their original technology of stud and tube bricks that snap together and come apart easily. But while LEGOs remain the top toy chosen by boys, they have fallen off the wish lists of many little girls.
Part of the reason may have to do with the company’s relatively recent attempts to improve its positioning, ironically. In 2005, faced with some poor performance data, LEGO determined that the popularity of video games and automated games meant it needed to refocus on these areas. It developed LEGO-branded video games to match its Star Wars line of building sets. It also pushed its website and interactive opportunities.
But at the same time, LEGO worried about the effects on its long-standing traditions. All LEGOs are made in a small town in Denmark, populated by just over 6,500 people, and the goal of the toys has always been to provide educational opportunities for children.
Additional market research that involved in-depth observations of just how children play revealed some notable insights. Rather than appealing to children by simplifying its toys, LEGO had made its sets too easy to construct, without room for careful thought or creativity needed. The observational research showed that children wanted a sense of mastery and accomplishment, not just instant gratification.
In addition, its research with girls revealed that they were not uninterested in building. They just wanted to tell stories to go along with their construction—an effort that was undermined by the pre-set stories in LEGO video games. Thus arrived the LEGO Friends, 29 mini-doll figures whose names, back stories, and adventures are up to girls to develop and include in their own narratives.
- How did different phases of research affect LEGO’s strategic choices?
- What is the purpose of LEGO Friends?
Source: Brad Wieners, “Lego Is for Girls,” BusinessWeek, December 14, 2011.
Rebekah M. said:
It is fascinating what Lego learned from its research regarding what children want in their toys. They found that children found the original Legos too simple to put together and wanted a challenge, not that they were too boring compared to video games. They also found that girls didn’t like Legos as much nowadays because they wanted to be able to tell stories as they built with the Legos and couldn’t do that with Lego’s current toys. But, because Lego bothered to do market research about their customers, they found how they could improve their toys and did by creating a toy called Lego Friends which are mini dolls that girls can make up stories about as they play with their Legos, thus satisfying their female customers. In addition to paying attention to their customers, Lego paid attention to their own company and what its traditions were. It realized that its goal was always to provide “educational opportunities for children” and it couldn’t meet that goal with video games, it needed to refocus on how they started. It was because they did this that they were successful in creating Lego Friends to keep little girls happy.
C Arias said:
Lego quickly realized interest in their products had fallen as society moved into more technological games which even kids are now involved in. Educational programs are now found in all consoles for children under 12 years of age and as the market moves towards these virtual platforms children move away from the Lego brand. As Lego learned of the shift they were able to adjust and extend their line of Star Wars product to include a Lego Star Wars video game, however as this occurred Lego also lost its appeals to girls. Girls look to make stories with their toys whether it is Barbie and Ken or Legos, and as Lego had already written a story for its characters girls lost interest. Therefore Lego once again went to the drawing board and released “Lego Friends” a set of characters which can be used to play increasing the focus on creativity that Lego had lost.