Lego has turned its brand around by listening to its consumers and allowing them to take part in content co-creation, according to the brand's vice-president of marketing and consumer experiences, Conny Kalcher.
Speaking at the Global Marketer Conference in Marrakech organised by WFA, Kalcher discussed the role co-creation has played in Lego's turnaround.
"We are a manufacturing company so we were previously driven by engineers – we had to move to becoming much more consumer focused," said Kalcher.
During a "volatile" period for the brand, the first step was to better understand how it could best serve its core consumer and improve experience, according to Kalcher. "If you want to be a premium brand, you have to keep demonstrating that you are listening," she said.
Facilitating conversations is a key part of the brand's social strategy, with interaction more valued than Facebook likes.
"For us it's just as important to stimulate the conversation between one
consumer and another rather than just leading the conversation," said Kalcher.
Lego's move to a reactive, real-time approach in addition to planned campaigns required a shift in mindset as well as a shift from paid to owned media as the company aims to orchestrate 360-degree campaigns across all platforms. The brand introduced real-time media centres to 'listen' to its consumers, while dialling up its digital content production, according to Kalcher.
"We used to be a toy manufacturer. Now we're turning more and more into a media company to tell our story about these bricks. We need a lot of content to tell that story."
In addition to its work with film and TV companies and in the licensing field, Lego is working with its fans to co-create content. One example saw fans create a mini-movie to appear in The Lego Movie. This collaboration with fans will continue to be an important part of the brand's strategy, Kalcher told The Drum.
"The consumer focus, and the involvement of fans, be it kids or adults, is increasingly important to us.
"We want to continue doing it, but we also want to do it in an authentic way. It has to be a balance of what works for the community and what works for us - it has to be to the benefit of both."
Toy brands have an opportunity to help educate children in digital skills such as coding, said Kalcher.
"Toy companies could play a role in developing programming skills, if not directly with the toys then online or in other media.
"It's not easy to make coding exciting. You really need to crack how to make it exciting, not just for the small percentage of kids who are really into coding."
Kalcher added that the speed of change is the biggest challenge facing marketers today.
"We as a population are experts in a certain way of marketing products, and now we need to embrace a totally different way. A lot of marketeers need that safety before we start experimenting, whereas digital marketing, is very much a way of experimenting, finding out what works and what doesn't work, inviting your consumers in. It's a more fluid way of working, and it's more exciting."