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News & Views

Predatory thinking

Here’s a thought…


Lego sells bricks.
That’s what they make, that’s their product.
The original concept was the little bricks fitted together, and could be taken apart, easily.
So a child could build anything they could imagine.
But of course they couldn’t.
Not complicated things.
Children could only assemble very basic things out of Lego.
When they’d finished, it was all taken apart and the bricks were put back in the box.
What children didn’t do was design complicated projects to build.
Because designing wasn’t play, it was work.
So they’d just build the simplest thing they could then play with them.
And consequently, each child only needed a finite amount of Lego.
Once a child had enough to make the basic things, they didn’t need any more.
This was obviously a real problem for Lego.
They needed to sell more bricks.
But for their basic toys, children didn’t need more bricks.
Lego’s brilliance was in changing the game.
In realising that it wasn’t bricks they were selling, it was toys.
But a different sort of toy.
Toys that you build yourself, educational toys.
Toys that would teach a child to follow instructions logically.
Toys that seemed like an investment in a child’s learning.
Lego understood that children enjoyed the assembly, but children didn’t want the hard work of designing the project.
So Lego did that for them.
And they began designing and selling kits.
Lego would design a project, a complicated car or plane, and sell the assembly instructions along with the exact number of little bricks.
Now everyone could build sophisticated Lego projects without the hard work of designing it.
And each time anyone bought a new Lego toy, it meant they bought hundreds of Lego bricks.
Lego shifted the model in their heads to IKEA.
If you want a wardrobe, you buy the complete kit from IKEA.
You use the pieces specifically for that one purpose.
You don’t keep breaking it down and seeing what else you can make from it.
You assemble the wardrobe and it stays a wardrobe.
That’s the new Lego model.
You no longer buy a bag of bricks and see what you can make.
You buy a ready-to-assemble kit.
Authentic looking, working models that can take up to a day to assemble.
Lego now sell hundreds of different kits to build every kind of toy.
All the rocket ships and castles from the Hollywood mega-franchises.
Batman, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Lord Of the Rings, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Spider Man, Toy Story.
Each of these kits features anything up to 4,000 Lego bricks, and they cost anything up to £300.
So has the new strategy worked?
Well, Lego now sell 7 of these kits every single second of the day.
Which means they now sell 19 billion bricks a year.
That’s 36,000 bricks every single minute.
Lego also sell 36 million tyres a year, more than Dunlop, Michelin, Pirelli, or Goodyear.
Around the world, 400 million people now play with Lego.
Lego changed the game by predatory thinking.
Instead of just looking at the limitations of what they make, they looked at what people want.

And they reassembled Lego, in their heads, in a different way.

We liked this article on predatory thinking from Dave Trott’s blog.

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