The major thing that leapt out at me in my interview, and in Campaign's separate piece, is that companies that want to build social networks or responsive sites around their users need to be agile. They need to get the right features for their users, they need to ensure these are working well and they need to listen to the data coming from their users' usage to determine whether they need to be developed further, or replaced.
To do this, the siloes have to go, and it's interesting to see today's Campaign piece discuss the need to drive home to developers and executives that kids just play with LEGO -- they don't think about different brands and they have no concerns about mixing Marvel and DC characters in their game. So why should a business be structured around such firm siloes, all brought about because of internal operations -- not how customers view and interact with their products?
The big takeaway for me, from my talk with LEGO Life, was that by attempting to become more agile, by breaking down those siloes between different product teams, LEGO got a lot better at listening. It's something a lot of brands talk about but few rarely spend much time on. With LEGO Life, data collection is made all the more difficult because more than 90% of users are children, so there's no personal information recorded.
However, the brand does get a good idea of how it influences behaviour. Namely, users of the site play with their bricks more and so are more likely to put the latest play set on their Christmas list. In fact, all year round, they will buy more LEGO than the typical non-user of the site. This means the service becomes a good gauge of what toys are proving popular because it is the characters the kids play with online that they are going to most readily identify with offline, and vice versa.
More directly, LEGO has allowed its adult fans to vote for which characters they would like to see made. According to my exec chat, that has meant new Ghostbuster and female scientists have been added to the long list of characters offered by the famous Danish brand.
So, if I were to take one thing away from having meet with the guys at LEGO Life and the Campaign interview today, it's that data is the perfect instrument for listening -- even if it's not personally identifiable. Listen to what people are telling you about your product and you can make it better, so long as your teams are agile enough to work together rather than act out turf wars.
For a huge organisation like LEGO, which readily holds its hand up to being very corporate and siloed, the results are already speaking for themselves through a better understanding of what toys and characters are popular and which ideas would make the best new additions to its toy lineup.