Lego, the toy company created in 1932 at Denmark, became one of the most famous toy brands in the world and after many very successful years, by the end of the 90’s almost went bankrupt (even in 2003 Lego was almost acquired by Mattel). Lego was facing fierce competition from video games and from similar cheaper toys. It also had to deal with high production costs. Several initiatives took place, but stakeholders engagement (in this case, consumer engagement) was key for company’s turnaround. In 2007, Lego reported the best financial performance of its history.
It all started in 2000 when Lego launched Mosaic, an Internet program that received digital pictures from consumers and that would send back instructions and Lego parts needed to assemble “Lego pictures”. In the future, Mosaic would send a complete Lego assembling kit.
In 2005, based on Mosaic’s success, Lego launched the LEGO Factory, where consumers could create, share and buy their own customized kits using Lego software available through the Internet. At the time Mark Hansen, LEGO’s Interactive Experiences Director said: “With LEGO Factory we can expand beyond our 100 designers and take advantage of the creativity of more than 300 thousand designers from around the world.”
Lego’s strategy to engage consumers into developing their own toys was an astonishing success. In the first 11 weeks, more than 8 thousand products were created and 10 were voted by consumers for mass production. Moreover, “creators-consumers” (with ages from 9 to 38 years old) earn royalties from sales.
Later Lego created the Mindstorms series, sophisticated Lego kits, with programmable pieces and sensors that allowed the creation of toys with movements. When consumers start to change software and codes, instead of restricting and controlling access, Lego used the opportunity to engage theses developers. The company made programs available, created competitions and users communities over the Internet. Quickly, over 40 new software were created and shared.
Furthermore, Lego used some of these consumers-developers to help on new product development. In this case, payment wasn’t even necessary, as stated by one of the developers: “We will talk about Legos and will be paid with Legos? Do you really want our opinion? It doesn’t get better than this.”
Today, Lego still designs and sells toys in the traditional way, but consumer engagement and joint-development became an exciting growing business for the company. New platforms for creation, improvement and sharing have been created, bringing innovation, creativity, expanding engagement and, thus, establishing strong lasting relationships with consumers. What else does a company needs?
Translated by Patricia Ostwald.