In the modern marketing theory, all products are considered as
services, co-created by the producer and the consumer (Prahalad
& Ramaswamy, 2004; Vargo & Lusch, 2004). In some cases,
such as the DIY or IKEA furniture, co-creation is literally the
case, as consumers actually build themselves the final product. In
some others, such as cars for example, this is less profound. In
the case of Lego, however, co-creation takes a different direction.
The reason why I think Lego is a distinct case is that the actual
product the company sells (does not need introduction, but) is a
number of different size, multi-coloured plastic bricks. The final
Lego product, though, is possibly a brick construction, or many,
unique for each Lego user, that can take thousands of forms and
meanings. That is, the final Lego product depends on the user, the
consumer, in order not to build according to the instructions (as
in the IKEA case), but rather to build according to his/her
imagination and personal creativity.
Ready Lego sets are widely available from the Lego shops, and
feature a wide variety of buildings, figures and vehicles, ranging
from the Guggenheim Museum, to Tower Bridge, the VW Beetle, and
Superman. However, what is most popular in the Lego world is what
the company itself calls MOCs (My Own Creation), the models of
teenagers and adults, who use their creativity to make their own
ideas come into Lego-reality. The huge community of Lego builders
(which you can meet here http://rebrick.lego.com) actively
co-creates the Lego product in every step of the process - from
getting to know new Lego building techniques, to organising Lego
theme exhibitions, such as the zoo. The initial product (the
plastic brick), thus, is nothing more than a creative medium,
whereas the final Lego product is what the users can do with it, a
combination of multi-coloured plastic bricks and creativity.
In this sense, the Lego building process goes even beyond the
traditional co-creation, to a combination of the company's bricks
and consumers' ideas, meaning and creativity, that can result in
numerous different and unique creations. Having captured the notion
of the co-creation process, the company extends even more the idea
of individual creativity, by promoting a whole philosophy of idea
creation that can make our life better (ideas which are sometimes
crazy and funny, such as the 'Stay Young Kittens' and the '25 Hour
Day', which are featured in the company's LegoClick website). I
would argue that instead of the bricks, this philosophy has become
the Lego product; a co-creation of little plastic pieces and ideas
within a free and infinite Lego universe. Don't forget that, as the
company suggests: "Every ginormous idea is born at a very special
moment in a very special place."
Prahalad, C. and Ramaswamy, V. (2004). Co-creation experiences:
The next practice in value creation.Journal of Interactive
Marketing, 18(3), 5-14.
Vargo, S. & Lusch, R. (2004). Evolving to a New Dominant
Logic for Marketing.Journal of Marketing, 68(January), 1-17.