As a kid, I had no idea LEGO® sets were targeted to me. Where did my parents keep their toys?
Growing up in the 90s, the small diversity of LEGO gave me the impression that, had I travelled to other countries, I would find localized LEGO sets of landmarks everywhere: the archipelagos of Japan, the Great Pyramid at Giza, or a massive coral reef LEGO set. Back then, almost everything LEGO was called the LEGO SYSTEM whether you owned the nautical set, police enforcement set, or Shell gas set. Being in the LEGO SYSTEM also meant everything fit. The interlockability of LEGO bricks dates back to the first manufacture of LEGO in 1958:
Lego pieces of all varieties constitute a universal system. Despite variation in the design and purpose of individual pieces over the years, each remains compatible in some way with existing pieces. Lego bricks from 1958 still interlock with those made in the current time, and Lego sets for young children are compatible with those made for teenagers.
The LEGO SYSTEM allowed the LEGO universe to coexist from legacy to present-day, but my childhood fantasy regarding LEGO sets in other countries was completely wrong. I asked Katie Bushey, assistant manager of brand relations at the LEGO Group, to clarify their product line-up for me:
All of our LEGO products are available globally and are available in all markets; individual products are not made for certain countries. The LEGO products found in a store in the US are the same as the LEGO products in stores in the other countries.
Katie Bushey, assistant manager, brand relations, LEGO Group
Then how has LEGO managed to rake in more revenue than ever in 2012?
I’ll tell you.
1. Create a New Market in Your Target Age Group and Attract More Adults
Initially shot down because “we’re a building toy company, not a minifig company”, the idea for collectible LEGO minifigures was to attract children who were also interested in collectibles. In May 2010, series 1 debuted in unmarked packaging with random figures. Each themed set has a total of 16 figurines and to date 12 series exist. A new series is released approximately every four months (design details). The idea was successful, and LEGO now attracts a new market of child collectors.
LEGO Architecture celebrates famous landmarks and feats of architecture through LEGO bricks. Launched in 2008, LEGO Architecture has been reviewed favourably. “This has actually increased the breadth of the adult fan population, as more adults that were formerly non-LEGO buyers are attracted by interesting and good-looking sets.” says LEGO buff, David Eaton at Forbes. Marina Bay Sands, the next LEGO Architecture set, is due October 2013.
2. Timely Trendy Products
LEGO Star Wars has been around for a while, but as the Star Wars universe expanded with a prequel trilogy, video games, spin-off series, and more and more borrowing of the brand by others, so too did LEGO need to expand its Star Wars line-up. Beginning in 2005, LEGO released its first video game LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game based on the prequel trilogy and followed-up with four other Star Wars themed video games. In 2008, to coincide with the television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, LEGO released a themed set based on The Clone Wars. Several CGI Star Wars LEGO movies have also been made, such as LEGO Star Wars: Bombad Bounty (2010), LEGO Star Wars: The Padawan Menace (2011), and LEGO Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Out (2012).
3. Comic Licensing
It’s no surprise LEGO has bandwagoned on to this surging trend. Over 50 films based on superheroes have been made since 2005. By 2012, LEGO had its Marvel Comics and DC Comics licensing in place, and the release of sets and minifigures continue to coincide with those films.
4. LEGO Video Games
Apart from Star Wars games, LEGO has been diligent creating video games from 2010 onwards. LEGO releases video games on all consoles, handheld consoles, as well as PC and Mac. The games cover racing, shooters, real-time strategy, open world, and even massively multiplayer online games. That’s just about every gaming genre excluding adventure. LEGO’s next massively multiplayer online game is based on its Minifigures line-up.
5. Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL)
Did you know adult fans of LEGO (AFOL) are a demographic to the company? In their company profile, LEGO has quantified the sales impact of its adult audience:
Just below five per cent of the LEGO sales goes to a large and loyal group, called AFOLs – Adult Fans of LEGO.
The LEGO Group
To LEGO, some sets deserve equal consideration. “With LEGO Star Wars, adults are equally considered.” said the LEGO company in an interview here.
As the adult market grew, LEGO listened: “Our adult audience is very important to us and we will continue to produce the larger, more intricate sets.” said the company.
With their excellent up-and-up performance since 2006, it’s entirely likely LEGO is on its way to breaking another record for 2013.
Algonquin College’s Social Media Certificate Program posted a similar entry about LEGO last week.
Thank you, Katie Bushey at LEGO.
To get more in-depth with Coca-Cola’s green image, I will focus on the use of biomimic marketing in Coca-Cola’s new sugar-alternative drink Coca-Cola Life.
Launched in Argentina and Chile in 2013, Coca-Cola Life is the brand’s third low-calorie sweetener soda beverage, and its first made with naturally derived stevia leaf extract and regular sugar. The benefits? A 60 per cent reduction in calories versus regular Coca-Cola from using stevia, and the sweetener will not affect blood glucose or insulin levels – stevia may even promote insulin production. To appear in keeping with its new green image, Coca-Cola Life is made even greener with a fully-recyclable plant-based bottle.
Now stevia has been around for a while, but not clearly in mainstream products. Do you recognize any of these?
Didn’t think so. How about these?
They’re one of 45 products Coca-Cola add stevia to. Plain ol’ Sprite, now with stevia, was introduced to France in 2012 and spread to the UK in 2013.
Inevitably, this trend has everything to do with biomimic marketing, which uses images of nature to market a product. Next Nature explores the relation between people and nature and describes this marketing practice simply:
Nature is a terrific marketing tool and corporations know this. Somehow the natural reference provides us with a familiar feeling of recognition and trust. We call this phenomenon Bio-mimic-marketing.
Here are some examples from the Coca-Cola Life Facebook page marketed in a lifestyle and natural setting:
The photos are awash with earth tones, Instagram-like candids, and a close connection to the environment; all of this is a response to consumers demanding corporate environmental accountability. And it works. In June 2013, Reuters wrote about the decline in sodas in the United States and the need to break the barriers to consumption.
PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, told a conference hosted by Bernstein Research in May that a breakthrough in sweetener technology could help reverse the decline in sodas in the United States and that it needed to occur sooner rather than later.
“A global roll-out seems likely.” says Bill Pecoriello, an analyst with Consumer Edge Research. PepsiCo had mixed results with its use of stevia in cola, but Pecoriello believes an initiative by Coca-Cola will spur PepsiCo’s innovation.
Coca-Cola goes further to remind us of all things relatable – chicken wraps and garden weeds – with its own collection of moments: first kisses!
If launched in North America, is this the right tactic? Does Coca-Cola need to change its familia-oriented Coca-Cola Life website?
Coca-Cola holds 50 per cent market share in Argentina. If Coca-Cola Life is successfully introduced, is this telling of health conscious attitudes held everywhere?
If consumers stay educated, this is the way to go.