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Case Study: Brick by bit - Brickit app highlights how digital tools can enable sustainable growth

Vladimir Roznyatovskiy, Ph.D., Senior Analyst
October 18, 2021

Traditionally, business practices and innovations try to avoid cannibalizing existing revenue streams – but given the growing importance of sustainability principles, the decision isn't always so clear. For example, in 2014, drug store chain CVS abandoned a profitable tobacco sales business simply because it didn't align with its values as a healthcare company. The company continued to grow and remained largely profitable – and loyal customers were 38% more likely to stop smoking, while regional tobacco use decreased in areas with significant pharmacy retail share held by CVS. Business decisions that lead to lower-volume sales but that are aligned with sustainability values and strategies can payback.


Lux Research - Materials - Newsletter

USE CASE AND BUSINESS IMPACT

new app, Brickit, takes a picture of a pile of Lego blocks, identifies the type and number of items, and suggests toys and assembly guides based on the pieces a user already has. This approach relies on several digital technologies (object recognition, scoring, and an optimization algorithm) and uses that innovation to support the principle of reuse of existing materials. The app provides a new and engaging way to play with old goods and adds digital guidance to help users reach their goals. It also includes a social component – allowing users to share images of their creations and blueprints with other users, encouraging interaction.

#LUXTAKE

With consumers becoming more conscientious about their spending and its impact, maximizing or extending the utility of already-purchased goods will be a crucial way to enhance sustainability. In the case of Lego, a pile of used plastic becomes a game again but now with a digital component, allowing Brickit to use the "installed base" of past customers to drive ongoing engagement. As physical product brands confront the impact of dematerialization, they'll need to focus on experiences, not just sales – and digital tools are a low-cost approach to do just that and can provide a platform for additional future revenue streams. Product companies in a variety of industries should consider how to use widely available digital tools like image recognition to provide additional value to customers. Expect to see brands like Lego get directly involved with these technologies soon, though revenue models are still emerging.

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