The story of customers coming to the rescue of toy manufacturer Lego is one of the most striking examples of the potential of social media, told here by Jake McKee, who at the time was the company’s global community relations specialist.
By the end of the 1990s Lego had lost touch with its customers and didn’t know what they were doing with its product. It even had a policy of not talking to them. As a result, the company had stopped innovating, and sales were stagnant.
McKee realised that the product’s fans held the key to the future. Not the kids, who had little to spend, but adult hobbyists, who on average spent $1000 a year on it, and were frustrated that the company didn’t listen to them. So much so that they had created their own communities. By reaching out to them, and simultaneously persuading his bosses to come down from their ivory tower, he was able to reinvigorate the company. Product innovation, word-of-mouth and sales all saw significant jumps.
This predates the age of Facebook and Twitter but it’s a powerful reminder of the importance of opening up to customers.