LEGO suffered a loss of profits due to the amount of different products they introduced. Normally, trying to appeal to as many audiences as possible wouldn’t be considered detrimental, but in the case of the LEGO Group it was. The other struggle that the LEGO Group faced was the issue of the world we live in becoming more technology oriented, which poses a problem considering that LEGO is mostly a analogue toy. As the profits of LEGO increased, the amount of products and product lines they released also did. I conducted interviews with a number of faculty members at Baxter and got some interesting responses to the following prompt: ‘LEGO recently suffered a loss of profits and is cutting 8% of its employees, which is around 1,400. Do you have any thoughts on why this might have occurred? One responded by pointing out that ‘LEGO keeps coming out with new bricks which is an incredibly expensive process. So they’re constantly investing and coming up with new bricks.
They’re actually a victim of their own success. The bricks from 1977, that I bought, fit perfectly with a modern day brick which is fantastic and awesome, but it also means my kids have bricks from 1977 so like why buy more?’ Apart from a few video games and animated shows, LEGO has tended to stay focused on the brick aspect of the company, only having introduced a total of 16 licensed themes from 1999 to 2010. In 2011, a major shift occurred and LEGO started introducing more licensed themes, with about 2-3 new ones each year. It started off fairly slow in 2011 with the introduction of only 2 new themes; Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean. However, LEGO proceeded to release 19 sets under the Cars theme in 2011 alone, while 14 sets were released under Pirates of the Caribbean. The following year, LEGO released an additional 4 new themes in addition to the continuation of the Cars theme with 50 sets released under these new themes. This year also marked the release of the 5th highest grossing movie of all time; The Avengers. LEGO marked the release of the film by releasing 4 sets based off of it.
In 2013, LEGO revealed and introduced 2 new themes; The Lone Ranger and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Lone Ranger movie was fairly well received, but it didn’t perform very well at the box office; only raking in $260.5 million, with a estimated budget of $385 million.
LEGO has continued to release licensed themes with 1 being introduced in 2014, 4 in 2015, and 5 in 2016. In 2017, no new themes were released but LEGO brought back some retired themes to correspond with new movies that were being released. They brought back Pirates of the Caribbean and released 1 new set as a tie-in to the Dead Men Tell No Tales movie. 8 new sets based off of the Cars 3 movie were also released. Introducing licensed themes can be a smart marketing and sales tactic, but one has to be careful not to oversaturate the market by making people feel overwhelmed. With LEGO releasing more licensed themes, there were also more licensed sets being released. The chart below shows the number of licensed sets released each year.
This does not include promotional items or gear (t-shirts, games, keychains etc) however, it does include polybags (yes, even promotional ones) and licensed Duplo sets. This second graph displays the number of new licensed themes that were introduced between the years of 1999 and 2016. Even though LEGO had released numerous video games that were popular in their own right, they had never released a game that proved to be a long lasting success. All the previous games had been limited to the franchise that it was based around.How could LEGO compete in a ‘media driven entertainment economy there the linear, story-driven experiences of computer games and TV show reigned supreme?’In September of 2015 LEGO released LEGO Dimensions. The game is similar to Disney Infinity and Skylanders, having a toy pad that allows players to beam characters and vehicles into the game.
However, the figures, vehicles and even the toy pad are all built out of physical LEGO bricks.It was very well received, earning a 80/100 rating on Metacritic. It also was nominated for four awards, and ended up winning three of them.The game was released on five platforms and allowed for single-player as well as multiplayer.
The game ‘starter pack included the toy pad, the brick built portal, in addition to three characters; Batman, Gandalf and Wyldstyle