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Lego Takes Crowdsourcing up a Notch

  |  June 20, 2011   |  Comments

At Cannes, co-creating products with consumers has become more than a smattering of buzzwords.

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A member of the audience collects Lego pieces from the stage after the Naked crowdsourcing session.

Cannes, France-- Lego is preparing a global pilot of a crowdsourced product and marketing effort first tested in Japan.

Under Lego Cuusoo or Cuusco, fans are asked to make a wish for a Lego set of their own design and then have people vote or pledge their support for the idea. When the number of online pledges for a product reaches 10,000, Lego will send it to production. Cuusoo, translated from the Japanese, means "wish."

The initiative was presented Sunday at the Cannes Lions advertising festival in a session hosted by Naked Communication, a consultant to Lego.

Previous examples of Lego's collaboration with fans include "MadeByMe," which lets fans order custom Lego sets using software built specifically for the purpose, and "Mindstorms," which allows technically inclined fans to build and program Lego robots. Cuusoo represents a step up, since it suggests Lego intends to produce consumer-designed products for a mass market.

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But the effort is still nascent. The first set released through the Japanese pilot is the 21100 Shinkai 6500 (pictured), a submarine design that only went on sale in February with 10,000 units available.

Lego's crowdsourcing efforts have been helped along by a naturally engaged and creative customer base. According to Willer, fans have uploaded more than 700,000 videos of their creations to YouTube and have attended 180 "Brickworld" Lego events in 30 countries.

A Lego spokesperson said the company has not decided how many Cuusoo models it will produce globally, but it expects to produce at least two a year. Since numerous ideas could garner the required 10,000 votes, every qualifying product will be evaluated by a jury of LEGO employees for design, production, and commercial considerations.

"Lego has opened the business so much that it truly can grasp all the inputs from the community," said Casper Willer, executive creative director at Naked.

As with the Japanese pilot, Lego will share revenue for Cuusoo-created products, paying designers 1 percent of revenue for products. The sets will be sold in the Lego online shop and through Lego brand retail outlets.

Naked also presented other examples of brands co-creating products with consumers, including a "Push Snowboarding" app from Nokia sponsored by Burton. Reminiscent of Nike-Plus, the app used sensors installed on a pro snowboarder's body and gear to visualize his heart rate, speed, orientation, and "rush." The concepted by Nokia and Naked was executed in large part by amateur snowboarding enthusiasts and developers worldwide.

Also breaking ground in community-driven product development is automaker Fiat's Mio crowdsourced concept car in Brazil. According to Fiat and its Brazilian agency AgenciaClick Isobar, the Mio effort involved 17,000 people in 160 countries.

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In a session here on Tuesday, executives from the client and agency will talk about the initiative in more detail. In all likelihood the Mio, unveiled previously at the São Paulo Motor Show, will have an on-stage moment. Today in the Cannes exhibit hall, a large white-cloaked object was parked at a Fiat kiosk.

UPDATE: The story was updated to include additional information, as well as correct the number of online pledges required for a product to go into production to 10,000, not 1,000.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Zachary Rodgers

Until March 2012, Zach Rodgers was managing editor of ClickZ's award-winning coverage of news and trends in digital marketing. He reported on the rise of web companies, data markets, ad technologies, and government Internet policy, among other subjects. 

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