Disruptor Status: LEGO®

I am a 30-year-old man about to buy some LEGOS…

Believe it or not, LEGOS have actually become a better investment than gold. According to a recent Telegraph analysis, LEGOS have increased in value 12% each year since 2000, with some of the more recent sets selling for upwards of 36% more after they are retired.

chart courtesy of www.wired.com

Funny, considering that only a few short years ago, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy. But all that has changed through a masterstroke of licensing deals and cross-promotion with some of our favorite brands (Star Wars, Batman, Marvel, Harry Potter, etc.). It has taken LEGO beyond just little tiny blocks, to a multi-million dollar company spanning movies, video games, comic books, TV shows, and more. (Just check out the chart, courtesy of Wired.)

What is the reason for this massive turnaround in success? Business Insider attributes it to handing over creative direction to the core fans of the brand at a critical point for the company in 2004 – something Republic can absolutely get behind. Actively seeking out feedback and collaborating with your member base is integral for any company’s success, something that Jorgen Vig Knudstorp understood when he stepped in as LEGO’s CEO that year.

Immediately, Knudstorp sought to streamline sets and inventory and began hiring new designers directly from LEGO’s fan base – designers who had more of a focus on kid-friendly designs. Much like Republic Labs and our Think Tank, fans can go to the Lego Ideas site, submit a design, get upvotes, and the best ones will be considered for production. Some amazing sets have come out of it, including Doctor Who, Wall-E,  and even the Golden Girls. Just like Republic, LEGO has relied on its members’ suggestions and has developed ways of taking top ideas and making them a reality.

Since then, LEGO has translated that customer feedback into quality throughout all its products. In 2014, the LEGO Movie shocked us all by actually being good – making over $69 million in its opening weekend (that Chris Pratt, he’s so hot right now).  Some folks, like LEGO Designer Mark Stafford, say the LEGO Movie perfectly reflects that focus on members:

“…It’s not just a toy, it’s a tool for creation and imagination and getting LEGO bricks into the hands of kids is the only aim of everything we do.”

Most impressive perhaps is LEGO’s most recent endeavor: LEGO Dimensions. Somehow, LEGO has convinced almost every major franchisee (Disney, DC, Warner Brothers, etc.) to put its characters into the same video game. I first noticed this in a commercial where I saw Homer Simpson riding a Jurassic World velociraptor into Mordor to help Batman and Gandalf return the One Ring to Mt. Doom. Um. Take me money please! This is astonishing. Not just technologically (I mean you can literally build a Back to the Future Delorean and have it magically appear in your game), but also from a business standpoint by having all these major intellectual properties we know and love appear on the same screen together.

LEGO knows what’s up and is tapping into its member base in creative new ways, all thanks to its open collaboration. It’s capturing the imagination of new generations, and recapturing the attention of older generations all over again, helping to bridge an age gap, something that few companies are able to achieve.

So what’s the set that finally broke me down and had me throwing my wallet at the screen? This glorious 30-year anniversary set of the Ghostbusters Firehouse, complete with a Slimer mini-figure. Look at it!!!

photo courtesy of www.lego.com

We have ideas about what makes a great company at Republic, but we also always have our eye on other companies we think are getting it right. We draw inspiration from those that seem to hold similar beliefs to our own and what they do to actually make their mission happen. We think LEGO is one of them and are excited to see what they have yet to build.

LEGO® is a trademark of the LEGO Group of companies which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this site.

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