Why boys love Lego

Image: LEGO

BusinessWeek has a fantastic article on Lego's new strategy to win over girls (they've tried in the past and failed) -- and how the strategy was determined by their anthropological studies.

Lego's succesful 2005 turnaround is almost completely credited to this anthropological research on boys. As parents of boys, we all know how beloved Legos are -- by kids and parents alike. What's interesting is that the research caused Lego to reconsider why boys love Legos.

For instance, American boys love Legos because it gives them one of their first tastes of independence:
American boys, meanwhile, turned out to be the least free of any group Lego tracked. British and German boys are far more likely to play unsupervised in yards and wooded areas and even have greater latitude in decorating their bedroom walls. Among slightly older American boys, 9 to 12, building with Lego represented a rare chance to be left alone.

And boys of all nationalities love the challenge -- too easy sets were leading to Lego's downfall. Boys like to work on a project and demonstrate mastery when it is done.
To compete with the plug-and-play quality of computer games, Lego had been dumbing down its building sets, aiming for faster “builds” and instant gratification. From the German skateboarder onward, Lego saw it had drawn the wrong lessons from computer games. Instead of focusing on their immediacy, the company now noticed how kids responded to the scoring, ranking, and levels of play—opportunities to demonstrate mastery. So while it didn’t take a genius or months of research to realize it might be a good idea to bring back the police station or fire engine that are at the heart of Lego’s most popular product line (Lego City), the “anthros” informed how the hook-and-ladder or motorcycle cop should be designed, packaged, and rolled out.

Great insights into the minds of boys!