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Exclusive sets retiring: A new pattern?

coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
edited December 2011 in Collecting
This holiday season will likely be remembered by us LEGO AFOL / fans / Hoarders / Collectors / Speculators as a season unlike the ones from previous years. LEGO clearly managed their stock levels and sales a lot better than previous years, fine tuning the time sets are suppose to retire, and how much they will go for.

We are seeing sets like MMV and Fire Brigade that may retire now without a sale like there was with the likes of Market Street, UCS Millenium Falcon and Cafe Corner, to name a few. Even sets that were discounted during Black Friday and are now are not seeing some deep discounts as before.

Sometimes I have the feeling that TLG monitors what we say here and at other forums, and are using this as an element to plan better their moves, what do you think? Is TLG going into a new (and a bit more difficult to predict) pattern of retiring exclusive sets?

Comments

  • proraptorproraptor Member Posts: 13
    TLG is a smart company....Its amazing how legos turned collectable and TLG realizes this. If the demand is high for these sets which it is there is no reason to discount the sets.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    @coolpix, I'm positive that LEGO does in fact monitor LEGO fan sites. I have actually gotten letters from LEGO reps commenting on post on my website. So, I'm sure large sites like Brickset, Bricklink, EuroBricks, etc. gets plenty of check-ups from LEGO...(c:
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,233
    I'm not sure about that..
    I think FB was extended due to the whole 39R1 mess and made more to account for those who would inevitably have issues when their kid opened one up for Christmas
    As for the MMV.. I'm guessing it sells fairly well (excluding the speculators) and I'm guessing there are not a lot of special pieces in the set to have to make to keep the set going.
    Most LEGO sets typically sell out due to high demand of Christmas... No it is possible that with TRU having a BOGO sale every week (although not much of a 'sale' but that is for another thread) and other sites doing widespread sales with LEGO not really putting a lot on sale (which they never did before anyway) then I am guessing that they just still have more stocks... no to much LEGO are not crazy.. they do not want to put Mods on sale to only break even in their profits....
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    There are, what... a few hundred members here? Maybe a few thousand unique people actually know this web site exists?

    Lego sells 7 sets a second, 220 million sets a year. Whatever we do here is a drop in the bucket compared to the Lego market as a whole. The size and scale of production is lost on most people, who see 10 sets here and 20 sets there being held for resale thinking that makes enough of a market to affect what TLG does.

    Do they watch it? Probably, to a minor extent, but I think they are much more concerned with how Dino is selling and what the reception of Friends is than the collections of a few thousand people holding back a dozen Fire Brigades.

    The 39R1 is a mess, and we might see FB stay around for another 6 months because of it. Lego didn't just make a thousand extra sets, they probably made 50,000 extra sets, to be sure to have enough replacements for a long time to come to take care of upset customers.

    There are business reasons to discontinue a set like MMV even if it isn't that expensive to keep making. TLG can only support so many different sets at once, if they can replace it with Joust which will sell many times as many units per day as MMV because it is "new" and MMV is "old", and the price is $20 higher for fewer parts, why not?

    Production is not unlimited, store space and shipping space is not unlimited, it all has a cost. At some point, additional unit sales are not worth the time and effort.
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    @LegoFanTexas I agree with all your points. It just seems that LEGO really got smart at retiring those exclusives without the need of a sale. Also, a lot of things that are spoken on the forums are coincidental to what actually happens after, like this week's after Xmas sale. It really looked like LEGO played with a lot of what's said here to plan their strategy.

    Again, I agree with you this is a drop in the bucket for them, however, it's undeniable that what happens here on this forum particularly has some effect to at least the US market. We've seen since Black Friday people going to Amazon and [email protected] and wiping out their stock of IF and ENs. TLG now knows we will buy these exclusive sets no matter what the purpose is (build, gift, speculation), without any deep discounts. That's the "new" pattern I was referring to.

    @akunthita confirmed that they've checked out akunthita's site and sent letters. Also, we know that in the past, every time @Huw or one of the contributors posted pictures of sets not yet released, TLG demanded the pictures to be removed. That's nother sign that they must have at least a couple people on their HQ in Denmark double-checking sites and taking notes on what's said.
  • momof2boys99momof2boys99 Member Posts: 322
    I think Lego and any major company for that matter does follow message boards. It is important to them to know what the public wants and what is happening with their product. My family is a John Deere family and my grandpa worked with Henry Ford. I can tell you from my personal experiences within my own family....companies do care and do take notice. Henry Ford was not all about big money, but once he was not in charge things changed. I do not know anyone in Lego management, but I am sure they are watching and want to know or they would not try things such as" Lego Universe" or "Friends". I know my son was on a kids panel with Lego and he had to answer questions all of the time about products that were up and coming. He also had to vote on new ideas and submit suggestions. I am sure some of you were involved in this too. I think some of these things do influence decisions. I am sure not all of their decisions, but to say it has no impact would be naive.
  • aplbomr79aplbomr79 Member Posts: 159
    edited December 2011
    TLG transformed in the late '90's to early '00's with the Star Wars Franchise (I believe this was a discussion in an earlier topic?). In the late-mid '90's TLG was dead in the water. I always refer to this period as the Pre-Star Wars Era. Once TLG acquired SW, their game changed - and has been evolving ever-since.

    As I would surmise from my limited marketing experiencing - TLG is looking to 'Strike while the Iron is Hot' rather than saturate a market. TLG is smart enough to pull a product when it does not have marketable value any longer (see IJ, PoP, TS, etc.)

    I believe that we will see limited releases in all themes from LEGO from here until the foreseeable future. We have seen this with the City Line, Creator, Space, the Kingdoms line (I am sad to see the demise of the Green Dragons), etc.

    We are also seeing cross-theme manipulations such as the Creator Lighthouse and the recently retired City Harbour line. I think that the Creator Cabin was also pre-engineered to create a buzz for the City Forest line... and I am happy to see such an endeavor.

    We will continually see new renditions of LEGO Train (because once a collector- always a collector); the City Theme will continue to pump out new models (that is their bread and butter), and of course new Star Wars sets (as long as Lucas Entertainment continues to provide more media for us to consume).

    I hope that TLG is not setting aside the most recent Castle Theme in order to push the new LoTR Line, but as we have seen the last Pirates Theme shipwrecked by the PoTC theme, I would say that Castle is dead in the water for some time. That may be fine with me as long as they don't minimize the piece count for profits due to LoTR... ha ha...

    And yes, TLG is monitoring all LEGO blogs/boards; they would be foolish not too..
  • Ma1234Ma1234 Member Posts: 693

    We are also seeing cross-theme manipulations such as the Creator Lighthouse and the recently retired City Harbour line. I think that the Creator Cabin was also pre-engineered to create a buzz for the City Forest line... and I am happy to see such an endeavor.

    Harbour isn't discontinued.
  • SupersympaSupersympa SwedenMember Posts: 534
    Of course they are watching, they are even looking for a "community coordinator"

    http://jobsatlego.com/dk/billund/administration_clerical/community-coordinator-jobs

    already 4 exists, 2 in the US and 2 in Europe....So i guess, they split their time between exhibition, forums etc....
  • MinifigsMeMinifigsMe Member Posts: 2,844
    edited December 2011
    ^ @lostintranslation - a job for you???
  • Pacific493Pacific493 Member Posts: 379
    There are, what... a few hundred members here? Maybe a few thousand unique people actually know this web site exists?

    Lego sells 7 sets a second, 220 million sets a year. Whatever we do here is a drop in the bucket compared to the Lego market as a whole. The size and scale of production is lost on most people, who see 10 sets here and 20 sets there being held for resale thinking that makes enough of a market to affect what TLG does.
    This is a very good point. It is very easy when participating in a board like this to lose perspective on the size and scope of TLG's overall business. TLG generated somewhere around $2.8 billion USD in revenue last year. The sales that we're talking about here are a blip on their radar. Sure, they're concerned with the AFOL market and there is probably some market research in the company about the secondary market, but this is not a core focus of their business.
  • LostInTranslationLostInTranslation UKMember Posts: 5,594
    @Savage_steel, well I meet the language requirement :) French and Spanish are pretty good, Dutch and Italian could use some polishing up. I'm surprised they didn't ask for German (could call that an added bonus ;). Seriously, I'd love to do something like that but I don't really have any relevant experience. I'll just stay an enthusiastic member of this site and Brickish for the time being :)

    A friend of a friend works as a designer in Billund and I was lucky enough to meet up with him when I went over in September. He told me he knew of this site and while he personally didn't follow it, some of his colleagues did (e.g Lego_nabii I guess). But overall I agree with the comments by @legofantexas and @pacific493: we are small fish in the global Lego pond.
  • y2joshy2josh Member Posts: 2,002
    There are, what... a few hundred members here? Maybe a few thousand unique people actually know this web site exists?

    Lego sells 7 sets a second, 220 million sets a year. Whatever we do here is a drop in the bucket compared to the Lego market as a whole.
    If you poke around the forums at all, this point is extremely evident. For example, just browsing through various topics, you'd assume Ninjago was one of the least popular themes ever. But the hatred Ninjago gets here doesn't even come close to mirroring the actual popularity of those sets.

    I think it's easy to lose track of the fact that we're a tiny, largely insignificant portion of what is already TLG's smallest (by far) target audience.
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    @y2josh - my local Lego store manager tells me that Ninjago sells very well, the kids love it and they are having trouble keeping the green box 2012 sets in stock. Was just in the store again today, walls were freakishly bare!

    I've seen Dino and Friends treated the same way, but largely adults are on these forums, and we are not the target of these items. I have no doubt my kids will love Dino, they have been to many dinosaur exhibits and find them amazing.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    LEGO store in Tigard, OR has ridiculously bare shelves - they basically took out the top row of shelving all the way around the store. no friends yet, no Joust yet, new city is hit and miss. Dino and Superheroes are hit and miss. no new SW yet. They told me today stock levels will be pretty poor for another two weeks yet.
  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    I can second the popularity of Ninjago - my local store tells me that in 2011 that was right behind Star Wars in popularity and excitement. they probably sold more city, but there were a LOT more city SKUs than Ninjago. Ninjago has easily been their biggest hit non-licensed new theme in years.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    Of course they are watching, they are even looking for a "community coordinator"

    http://jobsatlego.com/dk/billund/administration_clerical/community-coordinator-jobs

    already 4 exists, 2 in the US and 2 in Europe....So i guess, they split their time between exhibition, forums etc....
    I know all of the existing coordinators; they are very busy folk & they have very little time for surfing fan websites. A lot of what they do is interacting directly with LUGs, event organisers, etc. As has been stated elsewhere, LEGO view the adult fan community as important, but we account for less than 5% of their sales, so the amount of resource they allocate to us is pretty small. Where we are important to them is as advocates for the product, as individuals and through the public events that we put on. Basically, we're free marketing for them.
  • krklintkrklint Member Posts: 502
    @bluemoose, I have heard from people within Lego, and other sources, that 25% of total lego sales arrive from AFOL members. From my own experience when shopping, and watching, I have difficulty believing the numbers are as low as 5% for AFOLs.

    Also, marketing challenges within online communities is not difficult. Companies do not "surf" fan websites, they use spiders and other techniques to target and extract specific phrasing through quite powerful algorithmic equations to locate the information needed to increase product sales. Surf the sites, no. Easily gain specific information to help maximize profitability, quite simply and not very time consuming at all. The reason Kmarts and Sears stores are closing in the U.S., but Walmarts and Targets thrive, is because the first two stores do not use these resources to their benefit, the second two specialize in understanding intimate location marketing. Side note, I teach online writing now, but cut my teeth within marketing and market research.

    I agree that AFOlers are important as advocates, but our information within these sites is free marketing outside of our offline presence.
  • proraptorproraptor Member Posts: 13
    You guys are also forgetting AFOL's give lego ideas for new models/kits.....You cant tell me lego employees arent curious about what we build
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    @bluemoose, I have heard from people within Lego, and other sources, that 25% of total lego sales arrive from AFOL members.
    The 'less than 5%' figure comes from the Lego community engagement team; that's the figure they work with and is based on the best business analysis data they have available. They would love the figure to be higher, as it would mean they would have a bigger budget to work with :-)
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    You guys are also forgetting AFOL's give lego ideas for new models/kits.....You cant tell me lego employees arent curious about what we build
    Many of the design team are AFOLs in their own right, so obviously take a look at what other people are building. The 'interceptor' in the Earth Defence HQ set is based on one of Mark Stafford's own personal MOCs, which in turn was influenced by one of Nennen's 'Vic Viper' designs. But the designers aren't paid to surf the net for ideas from the AFOL community ...
  • Pacific493Pacific493 Member Posts: 379
    @bluemoose, I have heard from people within Lego, and other sources, that 25% of total lego sales arrive from AFOL members. From my own experience when shopping, and watching, I have difficulty believing the numbers are as low as 5% for AFOLs.
    I think it would be important to knjow what percentages we're talking about here...gross revenue, gross profit, sets sold, etc.?

  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,690
    I also find the 5% figure a little hard to swallow, although to be fair @bluemoose is well connected and hence better informed on such matters than most. Pacific hits on an important point, however - I can believe that 5% of customers are AFOLs, but find it significantly harder to believe that only 5% of total spend is by AFOLs.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    I'd be surprised if they can track all the purchases from all the different stores back to demographic groups, and as we know, AFOLs are more canny about getting bargains so will use a wide variety of stores. So I dont believe the 5% figure either.

    Also, many adults are buying sets for their children, and so they still need to appeal to adults. I bet that AFOLs give an insight into much more than the 5%.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    The figure is quoted as "less than 5% of sales". Seriously, we really are a small part of the overall Lego-buying population, even if we do buy more sets than the average 'muggle' and we tend to buy more expensive sets ... I know it challenges the self-perception of the AFOL community to believe we are a relatively small (but important) part of the overall Lego business, but it doesn't stop it being the case. 5% is still pretty good.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    ^ Sure, but as someone who works in the measurement of this type of stuff, I'd still suggest that they're unlikely to have accurate measures. You might still be correct, but I bet they don't really _know_, if you see what I mean.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    No argument wrt the "don't really _know_", but like I said back a few posts it's "based on the best business analysis data they have available" which is going to be a lot better than anything we have available to us. I'm not the OA guru in our team, but it seems quite plausible to me based on some simple assumptions.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    ^ I've seen it so many times when companies (often with many more resources at their disposal than lego) have strongly built assumptions based on the data they have, but then we've done different types of research, and uncovered some things which really surprised them and turned their view of their market on it's head. It's all about where the data gaps are and the assumptions & models used to fill them. I'm not saying Lego has it wrong, because clearly I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it does.
  • bluemoosebluemoose Member Posts: 1,716
    edited December 2011
    I do know that Lego have got quite a big business analysis team, split between Billund, Slough & Enfield. They've got assorted data sources that they can pull from, including info from the on-line surveys, LUGBULK (you need to submit your [email protected] login ID to take part), etc., which many other companies probably don't have equivalents of.

    I did read a report a few years ago that claimed that AFOLs accounted for around 12% of their (IIRC) "return business", which I assume was meant as a measure of customer brand loyalty.

    Edit: It's also worth noting that there are lots of AFOLs out there who are not set collectors; I know of quite a few AFOLs in my LUG who claim they haven't bought any new sets at retail for years; they get all their bricks from Bricklink, trading with other AFOLs, etc.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Northern VirginiaAdministrator, Moderator Posts: 5,238
    It would seem to me that TLG has been producing an inordinate amount of great, large, complex, pricey sets these past 5 years or so and that these IMO seem squarely aimed at us. I'm obviously piling assumption atop assumption here but I have a hard time rationalizing these product offerings with only a "5% Sales" demographic. But like I said, I'm making a ton of assumptions here.
  • L3GOCOLL3CTORL3GOCOLL3CTOR Member Posts: 5
    This holiday season will likely be remembered by us LEGO AFOL / fans / Hoarders / Collectors / Speculators as a season unlike the ones from previous years. LEGO clearly managed their stock levels and sales a lot better than previous years, fine tuning the time sets are suppose to retire, and how much they will go for.

    We are seeing sets like MMV and Fire Brigade that may retire now without a sale like there was with the likes of Market Street, UCS Millenium Falcon and Cafe Corner, to name a few. Even sets that were discounted during Black Friday and are now are not seeing some deep discounts as before.

    Sometimes I have the feeling that TLG monitors what we say here and at other forums, and are using this as an element to plan better their moves, what do you think? Is TLG going into a new (and a bit more difficult to predict) pattern of retiring exclusive sets?
    I think fans of any toy/gaming forum always think that the corporate execs read and listen to them, but I think that notion is overrated. Forum inhabitants make up such a small portion of any fanbase that our opinions basically mean nothing in the 'real' world.

  • dougtsdougts Oregon, USAMember Posts: 4,129
    I know that of all the LEGO sets I bought at TRU and other non-retailers this year, LEGO has NO way of knowing anything about me at all, nor whom I bought these sets for (almost entirely myself). That's thousands of dollars in purchases, all just chalked up under "generic retailer LEGO sales". They probably just assume those are sales in the "kid" bucket, which would be untrue.

    And I"m just one person. Multiply this same scenario by all the other AFOL's doing the same thing.
  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    It would seem to me that TLG has been producing an inordinate amount of great, large, complex, pricey sets these past 5 years or so and that these IMO seem squarely aimed at us. I'm obviously piling assumption atop assumption here but I have a hard time rationalizing these product offerings with only a "5% Sales" demographic. But like I said, I'm making a ton of assumptions here.
    I don't see parents buying these sets for their kids at LEGO stores. I see grown-ups buying for themselves, and the kids are always picking from smaller Ninjago, Star Wars, Alien Conquest or City sets. If you ask one of my kids if he wants the Alien Conquest Mothership, or Grand Emporium, he'll pick Alien in a heartbeat. Heck, he'll trade an Imperial Frigate for a few Ninjago booster packs!

    Everytime I see a documentary on LEGO, they are always saying that their product is, of course, aimed at kids. However, it's always mentioned that, when LEGO was sinking on the early 90's, it was the AFOLs that kinda gave steam to the company, by modifying Mindstorms NXT software, and giving better building ideas to TLG, then TLG started to give importance to MOCs and things like that. It's an assumption, but to me it's rather obvious that the Modulars have spawned from MOCs. Look at the boxes these days: They are always 16+. That's not aimed at kids.

    Even the LOTR sets coming in 2012 cannot be considered aimed at kids only. It was said here at these forums that LOTR has most of its fan base in adults, so why release a product like that? Wouldn't be better for LEGO to stay with Disney movies and Super Heroes only when talking about licensing?

    And with more and more sets like that in the shelves that appeal to us, I believe they do listen and they do monitor what AFOLs would like to see made of LEGO.

  • coolpixcoolpix Member Posts: 357
    @dougts I have that feeling too. How do they know we are only 5%, since we buy not only the big modular sets, but we end up buying anything for parts. I've seen people that's anxious to buy loads of Friends sets because of the new colors! They'll think it's girls buying these sets! Not AFOLs.

    I side with @krklink on this one. We are more to the 25% than 5%. Imagine they are ranking our purchases by the sets aimed at us alone: VW Camper, London Bridge, Etc. If those sets represent 5% of LEGO sales worldwide, we represent a lot more than that.
  • BTHodgemanBTHodgeman Member Posts: 622
    @coolpix - I also think they have a much better control on data now that they have the new VIP system in place.

    The cashiers ALWAYS ask me "Who is this for today?" when I check out. It's not apparent, but maybe there is a button they press on the register or a tick-sheet they keep under the counter.

    Also, whenever you take a survey, it asks who you buy products for. I believe they may have also asked when I created my online VIP account.

    Once the fact that I purchase for myself is somehow "linked" to my VIP account, LEGO has an exact number for LEGO Direct sales.

    I also tend to believe that the number is more than 5%... but I will say that tens of millions of $10-30 sets that Walmart/Target sell each year add up pretty quickly.

    Brent
  • LegoFanTexasLegoFanTexas TexasMember Posts: 8,409
    It would seem to me that TLG has been producing an inordinate amount of great, large, complex, pricey sets these past 5 years or so and that these IMO seem squarely aimed at us. I'm obviously piling assumption atop assumption here but I have a hard time rationalizing these product offerings with only a "5% Sales" demographic. But like I said, I'm making a ton of assumptions here.
    Yes, but I can attest that many a Death Star are sold out of the Lego store to parents to hand to their children. I've watched it over and over and all the employees in the store have told me repeatedly that for all my purchases there (over $20K in the past year), along with other resellers like me, we are but a drop in the bucket compared to the kids and parents.

    I've watched it, I believe it... The amount of money that parents drop on kids these days is far more than our parents spent on us. I wanted that GI Joe aircraft carrier when I was a kid, but only one kid I knew ever had one, and his dad was a lawyer with piles of money, no one else got such a thing. Today, parents will drop $400 on a Death Star just as far as they'll drop $600 on an iPad.
  • YellowcastleYellowcastle Northern VirginiaAdministrator, Moderator Posts: 5,238
    Don't get me wrong.... I don't think we're a great percentage. Without any data or inside knowledge and hazarding only a guess, my money would be around 10%.
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