Finally, a way to bring my Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lego set to life! Lego is reaching out to its fans in order to produce consumer-designed Lego projects for the mass market. After piloting the product crowdsourcing program in Japan and producing its first consumer-designed product (the Shinkai 6500 submarine), Lego is working to launch a global version of the site at lego.cuusoo.com. Here, people can propose potential designs and seek support from other site users. After a design receives 10,000 votes of support, it is reviewed by Lego and then, upon passing this assessment, it is put into wide production.
An interesting facet of this Lego crowdsourcing experiment is that they are not specifically targeting children as their audience. Paal Smith-Meyer, head of the Lego New Business group said in a company release, “It’ll be interesting to see how consumers react. We’re not aiming the product specifically at children – it’s something that may appeal to both adults and children. It’s along the lines of LEGO Architecture – it’ll be OK for adults to have this standing on their desktops next to the pencils and pens.”
It reminds me of last year’s Mattel crowdsourcing competition to determine Barbie’s next career choice. The options were Architect, Anchorwoman, Computer Engineer, Environmentalist, and Surgeon. After Barbie’s long and lustrous career that includes both fashion model and presidential candidate, it was an interesting split between two of these new potential job paths. Although Barbie’s dedicated audience of young girls voted for Anchorwoman, a well-organized group of adult computer engineers launched a campaign to put Barbie’s next career in the IT field. Though the vote was strongly divided between Mattel’s dedicated youth community and a passionate crowd of engineers, Mattel put both dolls into production – appeasing both the communitysourcing voice and the crowdsourcing voice and perhaps growing their audience at the same time.
But with children spending more time online at younger and younger ages, companies that use crowdsourcing to engage their target youth audience will be able to build an engaged audience at a younger age. This means that crowdsourcing could be a regular part of the next generation of toys.
So what Lego set design would you propose? What other toy companies would do well to engage their audience? What other ways can crowdsourcing help build your audience, young or old?