Friday, December 04, 2009

lego forgets half of their marketing audience...

My office is in an amazing location.

Not only are there spectacular views of the Puget Sound and Mt. Ranier from the 28th floor where I work, but it’s a fairly close commute and BlueC Sushi is across the street and half a block away.
Sam and Tali have never been to my work, but they also think it is the perfect location. Not because of the views, or even because of the sushi, but because the Lego Store is a stone’s throw from my desk. And that makes my little vendor desk some truly prime real estate for the grade school set.

So the other day after work, I ventured over to Lego central to shop for some Chanuka presents. The kids are all in love with Lego and though we have a massive tub of them that they dig through practically everyday, what they really love are the people.

But these Lego people pose a serious problem in our household. There are very few girl Lego mini figures, and those that we have are not heroines, but sidekicks or enemies to Indiana Jones, Spiderman, Batman, or Anakin. Sure, there’s Princess Leia, but she’s wearing her Jabba the Hutt slave girl outfit which is not acceptable to my daughters. (“Why does she always wear her bading suit, Momma?”) And true, Padme must be around somewhere, but I think she’s hiding in an $80 set somewhere. And who are we kidding? Ahem... sidekick.

So I went to the Lego store. It’s an amazing place. Cool brick buildings everywhere, a huge Lego carousel that my kids would ADORE if it didn’t cost so much and was for ages 16+. They have a whole wall of spare bricks for those pieces you’ve lost over the years (does anyone actually rebuild according to directions after they’ve accomplished them once?), and bricks in different colors in case you prefer to build in pinks and turquoises.

They have Knights and Kingdom sets, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Agents, some Miner things and a whole flux of underwater beasts and robots and battle things, as well as firetrucks, garbage trucks, police stations and cranes for their city sets.

“Where are the girl Legos?” I asked the sales guy.

“Girl Legos?” He paused. “Well, we have the Belville sets,” and he directed me over to the pink section filled with tiny Polly Pocket type dolls and horses. The sets are not made of bricks, or at least not very many, and the sets are in large pieces that can be put together quickly.
A few years ago, we bought a set for Tali. We were thrilled to have some girl Legos FINALLY. And you know what? She hated them. The dolls were sort of strange looking and it wasn’t fun to build when the pieces were so big and easy. Total disappointment. They now live at the bottom of the toybox in toy purgatory--not quite dolls and not quite Lego. And even now, there aren’t any new sets. Just the same horse stable stuff.

“What else?” I asked.

“Um…This little camper set has a girl in it?” It was cute, but tiny. And the girl was an obvious sidekick. I think she was holding the picnic basket while the guy minifigure got the surfboard.

“That’s it?”

“Well, there’s that pink box of bricks over there. And girls can play with the other stuff. They have some girls in the Indiana Jones sets. His girlfriends and stuff.”

I was getting nowhere. Even the minifigure bin had only male figures.

So I walked out of there with a set for Sam and nothing for the girls. Lego is missing a huge consumer sector out there. Their homepage, newsletters, and online clubs are all geared toward boys.

Hey Lego, I've got some news for you. Girls like online clubs and newsletters! In fact, I can see that you know that pre-tween demographic is a huge consumer marketing base since you've done an amazing job engaging my son in newsletters, online games and clubs, and catalogues that double as magazines. They play Wii and DS games, too, and they don't even require pink accessories for them.

Did you know that 50% of that age range are girls?

Oh, and girls like bricks and can handle a lot of them, too. Also, sometimes, they like to be the star and not the sidekick.

And I thought for sure by now you’d understand that boys aren’t the only kids who like to build things.


Dan Gebler said...

Amen sister!

SeattleCubsFan said...

I saw your post when Lani shared it on FB. I hate to start things off with "when I was a kid," but when I was a kid, there were no boy or girl legos, because there were no kits--just sets of building blocks, all in gender neutral colors (red, green, blue, yellow, if I'm remembering correctly). Both I and my sisters played with them for hours, building things from our imaginations, not from directions.

Fast forward to 2009, and we have two girls, 8 and 5. We've avoided the lego kits, and have bought the closest things we can find to the lego sets of yesteryear.

That said, I totally agree with the thrust of your post--they need a bionicles equivalent for the girlie crew. :)

Becky said...

Well on the flip side, I find it very hard to find cool boys in the Barbie sets. All I get are sidekick Ken's. ;-)

OK fine, so I've never looked in Barbie for Ben... this brat is signing off. Over and out!

amy said...

Oh Princess, egads... Barbie is a whole other story. But Ben isn't going to be happy that you're spreading rumours about him playing with Ken. :)

amy said...

Thanks for reading, SeattleCubsFan! I totally played with the gender neutral sets when I was a kid and my kids love building their own creations--much more than following the directions most of the time. But they want those darned minifigures to play on their creations and that's where we get totally stuck. They make cool ones for boys--not for girls.

April Fire said...

From experience, the girls in Lego are weaklings!!!

Lego has developed more colors over the years. If you want to buy some in bulk or find some really cool and rare sets, check out It's like eBay/craigslist but exclusive for Lego bricks sets and parts

Mari said...

Welcome back More.... I missed you too!!!!!