Brick Ownership

Recently I was asked to do a program on the future of Customer Service. One of the key concepts I introduced was “Brick Ownership”. What is that? To understand Brick Ownership, you have to see A LEGO Brickumentary. This is not the same film as The LEGO Movie that came out into the theaters a couple of years ago, and where “Everything was Awesome.” This is actually a documentary film that gives the larger view of the infamous Danish construction toy.

The film does much to capture the loyalty of LEGO customers and the number of ways that loyalty was demonstrated. But one particular aspect offered insights of a much higher level–insights that many organizations would do well to learn from.

Since its early days, LEGO grew one brick at a time. The nineties especially was a strong decade. But in the mid-2000s, LEGO came up with products that resulted in profits plummeting. The LEGO empire was almost dismantled brick by brick because of its own arrogance. It has stopped listening to its customers, thinking they knew more than what customers were telling them.

One particular opportunity came when an unemployed architect decided to go back to his love of building models. He bought several grocery carts worth of LEGOs and poured them out on his floor. Then he began to create buildings that were modeled after the Empire State Building and the Taj Majal. He showed his efforts to LEGO, who was confused, because they had never tailored their products to anyone other than children. To prove his concept, the architect made a bunch of kits, packaged it like a LEGO product, and sold it at a LEGO convention. It not only sold right off the shelf, but at a far higher price point than similar sized product had sold. LEGO management was sold, and today, LEGO Architecture is a product line in any LEGO store. From there, LEGO has allowed its customers to conceive their own LEGO sets, vote on the best of the best online, and then turn them into store product, sharing the revenues with its customers.

You can see a preview below. Take a look:

This is what is meant by Brick Ownership. To create greater customer advocacy, how do you allow your customers to truly own and shape the products and services you create? At the heart of this is listening to your customers. But Brick Ownership is more. It’s about giving customers a stake in defining your business. It’s about engaging them as partners, not simply consumers. It’s a fascinating direction for where many businesses may be going. How do you let your customers express themselves through the products and services you offer? How do you let your customers invest in Brick Ownership?

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