Colorwheel Toys

Lego Friends? Lego Foes?

Posted on: January 22, 2012

Up until a couple of months ago, LEGO was just LEGO.

Not LEGO for BOYS nor LEGO for GIRLS. Just straight-up LEGO.

You know where this is leading: yup… “Lego Friends” was released recently and geared specifically for girls, check it out: Lego Friends

Lego Friends Homepage

It didn’t take long for the public to notice:

“LEGO Friends Petition: Parents, Women and Girls Ask Toy Companies to Stop Gender-Based Marketing”

1983 Lego Ad

So as much as this group (among many others) dislikes the ‘ultra pink girl butterflies girl’ version of Legos (pictured at the very beginning of this post) I decided to gather 1 data point with my very own 7-year old sister, Monica…

Editor’s Note – This call was originally not intended to see if she likes Lego Friends but rather get a general feel of which ‘educational’ building sets did she prefer.

I called back home told my brother to setup the laptop and gave him the URLs to show, my little sister was on FaceTime so that I could see her reaction.

First up was Magna-Tiles

  • Miguel: “So what do you think? Isn’t this cool?”
  • Monica: “Eh…it’s okay….”
  • Miguel: “What if Mommy buys this for you, would you play with it?”
  • Monica: “Well, I don’t know….”

Second was Tegu

  • Monica: “I like this better than the first one..”

Third was Snap Circuits

  • Monica: “Ooooh this is COOL”
  • Miguel: “Is this easy, hard, or do you think you can do it?”
  • Monica: “Well how do you put it on? What can I build with this? I think this is the best one [so far]”

[Right when I thought I was gaining positive traction on Snap Circuits, I had one more card to bust out and lay on the table… Enter LEGO FRIENDS…]

Lastly, Lego Friends

  • Miguel:  [I haven’t even asked anything at this point and off she goes]
  • Monica: “OOOOH I’VE SEEN THIS ON TV, I like this, this is so cool! I remember seeing this!! I saw this before watching Disney Channel!”
  • Miguel: “Would you want me to get this for you or give you a Barbie instead?”
  • Monica: “Well thanks, but I like this better than Barbie
  • Miguel: “Really? But Barbie is your favorite toy?”
  • Monica: “I want this one because you can build stuff with it. In Kindergarten, I played LEGOs a lot, you have to work fast and finish [assigned work] first so that you can get the good LEGOs”

What just happened there??(Image credit: iAmCurtis)

Well…..What just happened there??

The very product a good number of people are protesting nationally is something that my own sister really wanted compared to those educational toys I showed.. Argh.


1 Response to "Lego Friends? Lego Foes?"

You’ve discovered a big barrier in this experience: marketing and advertising costs. Back in the 60’s, Mattel realized that they could advertise toys on TV, and make shows about toys on TV, and kids would run to their parents and beg them for the toys that they saw on TV. And we all remember it growing up watching our favorite Saturday morning cartoons, the commercials had cool kids playing with cool toys.

Mattel wasn’t the first to figure this kind of thing out though. Check out this drawing which Walt Disney did long before the business model canvas (

Look at what’s at the center–it drove all the awareness for everything else.

So, as you discovered earlier, brand is important to parents because it’s a heuristic that tells them “this product is good”, without having to research it. And now, you’re discovering that kids become aware of products through TV and WOM (word of mouth–probably from other kids that saw things on TV).

These are two big barriers to entry for toy startups. Running advertising on TV and building awareness for your brand is very expensive. You could look at some toy companies’ business model canvasses, and you would see these things featured there as key to their business.

You won’t be able to compete directly with them on these things. So you’ll need to find other ways to compete. You may not be able to build a brand right away, but you may be able to find clever ways to get kids and/or parents to tell each other about your products. The internet has presented a lot of new, cheap channels to do this. This may or may not be the answer, but something to think about…

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