Case Detail

Case Summary

LEGO(tm) Friends: Leveraging Competitive Advantage

Case Number: 5-312-500, Year Published: 2012

HBS Number: KEL736

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Authors: Michael Mazzeo; Greg Merkley

Key Concepts

Change Management, Competitive Strategy, General Management, Innovation, Inventory Control, Marketing Strategy, Operations Management, Product Development, Strategic Planning, Strategic Positioning


In December 2011 the Lego Group (TLG) announced the launch of Lego Friends, the company’s sixth attempt to market a product to girls. Lego Friends, which was supported by a $40 million global marketing campaign, was designed to introduce the fun of building with Lego bricks to girls, who represented less than 10 percent of Lego’s audience.

The company’s poorly executed brand extensions and move from free-form building sets to story-driven kits had nearly cost it its independence in 2004, so the launch of Lego Friends was strategically important. However, within hours of the product’s appearance it was heavily criticized for reinforcing gender stereotypes and damaging the valuable Lego brand.

Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO since 2004, had saved TLG and ushered in an era of sales growth with a series of successful strategic initiatives. Would Lego Friends be another addition to TLG’s graveyard of failed products for girls, or would it prove popular and finally enable the company to double its sales and profits by reaching this segment?

Learning Objectives

After analyzing the case, students should be able to:

  • Understand the connection between a firm’s assets and its activities
  • Identify new resources and capabilities required for a change in strategic focus
  • Recognize the consequences of poorly matched assets and market opportunities

Number of Pages: 21

Extended Case Information

Teaching Areas: Strategy

Teaching Note Available: Yes

Geographic: Denmark, Global

Industry: Toy

Organization Name: The Lego Group

Organization Size: Large

Year of Case: 2011