My pre-teen son informed me today that his little sister scored two A’s on tests this week. As a happy and proud parent, I asked what subjects they were in, to which he replied ‘Bionicle’.
These weren’t tests for school, but rather for the LEGO Bionicle* toys, which my son has a cult-like fascination with. He has a good sized collection of them, he has read (I believe) every book and watched every movie they have made, and he even creates story lines from them which he shares with all of his friends, given any opportunity.
Of course, his little sister wants to do what he does, and has developed her own level of dedication to what I can only refer to as the ‘Cult of Bionicle’. From requesting to watch a Bionicle movie on Family Movie Night to writing letters to LEGO to plead for them to revive the now defunct storyline and figures, my two kids are marching lockstep down a happy path of happy Bionicle devotees. Which devotion includes him creating quizzes for her about the Bionicle universe, and she gladly takes. That’s a fan!
There are quite a few lessons to be learned here, chief among them is that a good product or service will create a large and dedicated following, often well beyond its end of life (see the short lived TV show Freaks and Geeks as an example),
A successful company will find a way to fill the needs of its paying Customers. This is different than just creating more products in an attempt to sell to their Customers.
Raving fans will be all the marketing you need and the money will follow.
Sadly, LEGO retired the line in 2010, much to the distress of their fans, collectors and…..paying Customers., which leads to our Lessons Learned segment:
How do we measure fan loyalty?
Can that be measured in dollars spent?
Are there intangibles that fans provide beyond purchasing, such as cult-like indoctrination of new fans?
What is the threshold of revenue needed to continue with a product before for retiring a product or service?
Lots to think about, and I’d like to write more, but I have to drive him to garage sales to look for more Bionicles.
Thanks for reading,
*Bionicle was THE product that brought LEGO out of a 10 year Financial slump, winning Toy of the Year in 2001, was LEGO’s number one product in 2003 and 2004, over one million page views per month on their website, first year sales of 161 Million dollars, and reached market saturation of 85% knowledge and 45% ownership in boys ages 6-12. The line was retired in 2010, with occasional stories being published in an attempt to appease their fan base.