The latest issue of Wired magazine sports a Lego army and talks about Legos obsessed fans.
How Lego fans were alternately ignored and then embraced is duly reported in the book Primal Branding, but it doesnt hurt to emphasize the switch from manufacturing-minded to customer-minded.
While most companies strive their entire lives to obtain, build, and nurture a fan base, some companies with established customer communitieseven raving fans, sometimes take that customer zeal too much for granted. Or ignore it completely.
Such was the case with Lego, whose ravenous customers spent hours and thousands of dollars envisioning, building and displaying elaborate Lego fortresses, cities, towns, spaceships, Darth Vader replicas and whatever else their imagination could render.
For decades, confirms Lego community development manager Jake McKee, Lego ignored this shadow culture. Lego is striving to develop its market of people who are outside the official target markets, but are active LEGO enthusiasts nonetheless, says McKee. That means theyre selling beyond the traditional ages 4-12 market usually suited by Lego. For years, Lego screamed about Legomaniacs as it tried to extend its market beyond the 12-year kid ceiling, not realizing they had Legomaniacs all along.
As the Wired article points out, it took a $238 million dollar kick in the bricks to snap the Lego brand into paying attention to this customer base.
Today, the Wired magazine speculates they have broken through the 12-year old kid ceiling with robotics. Legobots (my word, not theirs) have that bold equation common to all great toys: imagination + entertainment.
The question is not one of ingenuity, but how can Lego give this dynamic new enterprise as robust a sense of community as its 50-year old predecessor. The answer of course, lies in the primal code. Now that would be a toy story worth telling.