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.