Lego is more than a toy, it’s a creative building material with a huge fan base. It is the 6th largest toy manufacturer in the world.
Lego is a Danish-family owned company based in Billund Municipality, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen. Lego is derived from the Danish words ‘leg godt’ which means ‘play well’.
AFOLs are a community of interdependent adult fans of Legos, makingup an estimated 5-10% of the multi-billion dollar enterprise. According to TormodAskidsen, senior director of business development at the Lego Group, an estimated $50 million in sales is generated by AFOLs annually.
LUGNET.com is one of the largest online user-oriented communities. Members can track their sets, build web pages, rate postings and create polls. The website also features a database of Lego sets and provides links to other Lego sites. The aim of LUGNET is ‘To enrich the online experience for the LEGO enthusiast in a growing number of new ways’.
TormodAskidsen’s job is to help sell Lego sets to people who don’t see Lego as a toy at all. He is aiming at buyers who think it’s a creative building material and not just a toy. The Lego Ambassador program was initiated by Tormod in 2005 to build relationships with the existing AFOLs, made up of adult LEGO hobbyists, to develop a tighter bond between the LEGO Group and the LEGO Community, by forming trusted relationships with a select group of the leaders of the adult LEGO community, designed to provide a continuous exchange of information, ideas, and community feedback between the Adult LEGO community and the LEGO Group. There are currently 40 LEGO Ambassador "seats". LEGO Ambassadors are the “representative voice” of the community. This means that they will act as true influencers for the adult LEGO community into the company, as well as finding and delivering information of relevance to the community out of the company. LAs have the opportunity to become the eyes, ears, and voice of the adult LEGO community inside and outside the company. They help keep the community informed of current LEGO Group news, internal background information, and other subjects of interest for the adult fan community, they help bring the opinions and desires of the community into the company, they have a say in product design as well, which helps to make sure that the product will succeed in generating sales. LAs are not paid in cash, but Lego bricks-cheap for the company and valuable to the select few. They require internet coordination, staff time, travel and Lego brick payments. These influencers estimated costs are $200k according to the book. 25 LAs are in touch with an estimated 100 people each or more with online presence, which equals 2500 people.. AFOLs spend an average of $1000 each year on Legos. By increasing purchases by $200 per Ambassador, it would produce annual sales growth of $500k, along with the subtle ROI of constant feedback to the company. This group needs to be catered to as they provide a huge influence on the younger generation and next of kin. Energizing the base is a powerful and effective way to use the groundswell to boost sales. Eric Kingsley, aka a creator, is a current Lego Ambassador, who posts frequently to LUGNET, uploads photos, maintains 3 websites and was the 18th person to join the network. Joe Comeau is a critic and Linda Nee is a spectator, who participates in Lego activities….
Like trying to set the world speed record for assembling one of Lego’s most complex kits, the Imperial Star Destroyer. . . ..
Or the Death Star, the largest and most expensive Lego set.
Energizing the base is a powerful way to use the groundswell to boost your business. I recommend that Lego buy all domain names for Lego Ambassadors (.com, .net, .org, .ca, etc) to streamline, and create a Top 10 contributions annual contest-with prizes. Groundswell is a great way to influence and reach more AFOLs.
Integrating LA children more into the website and spawn off a mini-ambassador program along with an ‘heir-to-current’ LAs. I would venture to say that AFOLs have bought an abundance of Legos for their children. Energizing the groundswell means tapping into the power of word of mouth by connecting with, and turning on, your most committed customers. Creating a Lego Ambassador hierarchy to spawn a Lego Kingdom through elections and nominations could help. Also, the LAs would accumulate perks such as exclusive products, promo events and LegoLand season passes where they would wear their Lego hierarchy garb around. The benefits to a Lego hierarchy would be to have the most influential LAs strive to become the next ‘Lord Emperor of LegoLand’, pushing sales higher. The new children-oriented ambassadors will promote more growth from within, along with creating more demand towards their parents. Along with that, the heir-to program for the current LAs will make the program that much more desirable and sustain its current strengths.
Accelerating Facebook and Twitter maintenance would help gauge influencers. Developing an exclusive Lego Ambassador smart phone app and RSS feed would succeed in bringing more interaction to Lego as well, it is just what needs to be done to keep business thriving in this ever-changing market.
Lugnet.com is a user-generated website that Lego should integrate more into their influencing strategies. Fellow Lego fans are sure to spread positive word of mouth. Word of mouth succeeds because it’s believable (testimonials from Lego buyers carry far more credibility than any media source), it’s self-spreading (if a product is worth using, its word of mouth generates more word of mouth in a cascade that’s exponential), and it’s self-reinforcing (if you hear it from a few people or more, no matter if you know the people or not, it has got to be true).