I was in the toy section of my local Kmart the other day with my three-year-old son, specifically I was in the LEGO isle, daydreaming of the day when I will be buying Star Wars LEGO for him (and by proxy for myself).
Picture sourced from http://www.ebay.com.au
It was there I saw it, between the LEGO Ninjago and LEGO City sets, a box with shades of pink and purple, a box with six smiling girls at the top right each having different coloured hair, a box with the LEGO logo and the title ‘Friends’. It was a LEGO boxset positioned to target girls between the ages of seven and twelve.
But LEGO is just for boys!
Having grown up with one brother and three sisters, I saw that girls played with LEGO at times, but it was never bought for them. Would this new offering change that?
Picture sourced from www.kmart.com.au/LEGO
At the end of 2011 LEGO had grown its percentage of the global toy market to be 7.1%. This was a large and growing share of the market, the result of years of successful growth strategies for their different targeted toy market segments.
Iacobucci shows that different customer information is used by companies to segment markets, including demographic data such as gender or age, geographical data such as which country or region is being targeted and psychological which covers aspects such as attitudes, wants and needs.
LEGO had identified a number of different segments of the toy market, using age, gender, country and interests. Strong segments included younger children that it reached with Duplo, children interested in Star Wars, served by its Star Wars LEGO range, and children interested in emergency services targeted by its LEGO City range.
These and the other strong segments were all notionally boy segments, reinforcing the perception that LEGO is just for Boys. This left a gaping hole in half the toy market where LEGO had limited success.
When choosing segments to target, experts suggest that ‘Market Segments offering the greatest opportunities will be those that are growing and profitable, in which companies can effectively meet the needs of these customers today, and for which companies can develop their products or services to better meet these, and the evolving needs of tomorrow.’
Because for LEGO the girl market was relatively untouched, if LEGO could develop and position products to reach this segment of the market it would offer great opportunities. To quote LEGO Group CEO Jørgen Vig Knudstorp ‘We want to reach the other 50 percent of the world’s children.’
In 2007 LEGO set up a research team to better understand the way girls’ play, and to design (position) an offering for the 5+ girl segment of the toy market. Their greatest learning from this segment according to LEGO’s Marketing Research Manager was that ‘the greatest concern for girls was really beauty’.
The physical toys were designed to be more appealing to the targeted segment, with new pastel themed colours, and the traditional LEGO people figures redesigned to be taller and slimmer to better reflect real life.
Picture sourced from www.smh.com.au
The backstory of LEGO Friends ‘centres on five girls in a fictional town called Heartlake City. Each of the friends – Olivia, Mia, Andrea, Stephanie and Emma – has a distinct personality and interests such as animals, performing arts, invention and design. Building sets reflect different areas where the girls’ adventures take place.’
There have been a number of responses to the launch of LEGO Friends, with many groups attacking LEGO’s perceived gender-stereotyping on social media and with petitions such as the #LiberateLEGO campaign.
The key result for LEGO though, was the impact in the 5+ girl segment of the toy market, and results were good. In the first six months after launch, LEGO Friends sold double expectations. LEGO Friends became LEGO’s fourth best selling line in only its first year.
The overall growth of LEGO profits has continued since then, with LEGO growing its overall market share to approach that of global toy leader Mattel. LEGO’s growth averaged 15% for the years 2006-2015, on the back of LEGO Friends and their other new product offerings.
As a result of effective Segmentation, Targeting and Positioning of LEGO Friends, LEGO is showing that LEGO is no longer just for boys.
Iacobucci, D 2013, Marketing Management (MM4), Student Edition, South-Western, Cengage Learning, Mason, Ohio.
McDonald, Malcolm.; Dunbar, Ian, 2012, Market Segmentation: How to do it and how to profit from it, retrieved 8 August 2016 <http://reader.eblib.com.au.ezproxy-b.deakin.edu.au/(S(uya3pq5yngvglyqvwmcaaqow))/Reader.aspx?p=1040905&o=154&u=Sd21rXnOrpQVGUrEwGMyvA%3d%3d&t=1470663815&h=7EDCE30045C1B2D7982AE140D7E4412DFEA1F937&s=26939587&ut=484&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=1;.