Why should boys have all the LEGO fun? Last year the 81-year-old toy company released LEGO Friends, specifically designed with girls in mind. A year in, the product is a rousing success, selling twice as well as expected, according to a statement from the company.
“We don’t believe that building is an activity that should only be reserved for boys,” says Michael McNally, the Brand Relations Director of LEGO Systems. So LEGO conducted four years of research with moms and girls around the world to see what kinds of toys girls are drawn to. Researchers were surprised to find that girls were less than excited about their traditional mini figure. “They quite simply said, ‘It doesn’t look like me and it doesn’t look like my friends,’” says McNally. “Where the boys were sort of saying, ‘It doesn’t matter what the figure looks like, it’s obviously me and I’m going on these adventures.’” Also, the girls were much more interested in playing with things that they could do with their friends in everyday life. “It was less about, ‘We’re blasting off to outer space and fighting alien insects as they try to take over outer space, and more about, ‘Where’s the place where we go to get milkshakes?’” says McNally. The result was Friends, a line of five main female characters that are designed to look more like human beings, with relateable accessories like parks, tree houses, pools, and playgrounds.
The product launch has been a hit with kids and their parents. “A father was saying that he was thrilled to be able to connect with his daughter in the playroom around a LEGO experience because he had passion for it as a child, and now his daughter was showing interest in LEGO building in a way that she had never done before because of LEGO Friends.”
LEGO is planning to introduce male characters to the Friends line this year. “The children who had tried LEGO Friends were saying, ‘We love these characters, this one looks like me and this one is my friend.’ And then they said, ‘But we don’t see any boys.’”
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