In the 1920s, a five-year-old boy from rural Sweden called Ingvar Kamprad began selling matches to his neighbours. By the time he was seven, he expanded his market with the help of his bicycle, and gradually added more products to his catalogue such as flower seeds, greeting cards, pencils and ballpoint pens. Eventually, this boy would go on to head IKEA, one of the world’s largest furniture retailers, valued at nearly $20 billion at the time of his death in 2018.
With stores in over 50 countries, IKEA has become synonymous with affordable, yet modernist ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories. Even if public opinion on the quality of their goods is somewhat divided, the company managed to attract more than 1 billion customers in 2019, and is considered one of the most recognisable brands globally.
IKEA truly knows how to market itself, but what exactly are the secrets to its success? Well, we have tasked ourselves with introducing five things you should know about IKEA’s marketing strategy.
Proactive, rather than reactive, market approach
Sophisticated customer and market research are the backbone of IKEA’s marketing strategy. From sending experts into people’s homes to find out what are the day-to-day issues that ordinary people deal with, to telephone and internet surveys, the company invests heavily in getting to know their audience.
Examples of this abound; back in 2014, for instance, the US branch polled 1,000 adults and found that 72% consider that a stressful morning can negatively impact their mood and performance during the rest of the day. As a response, IKEA launched the First :59 campaign, which consisted of a now defunct website of tips focused on how to improve organisation, utility and comfort for the first 59 minutes of the day.
More recently, the company has been trying to figure out what the 2030 customer needs will be through the One Shared House 2030 study, launched by IKEA’s research lab Space 10. It consists of a survey which, rather than asking respondents to visualise the future, literally takes place in 2030; when 1.2 billion more people inhabit the Earth, 70% of us live in urban areas, and space has become a scarce luxury.
Killer social media strategy
Rather than relying on the typical Facebook and Twitter accounts that most major brands run, IKEA went one step further and has been heavily investing on YouTube but, most importantly, Pinterest. Aiming to make buying decisions considerably easier, users can see on Pinterest how IKEA products look when placed in a certain room, and can pin and share what they like or need.
The brand’s YouTube channel is also noteworthy, not for its sales-focused content, but because of the lack of it. While a handful of ads can be found, most videos are short and easy-to-understand tutorials on how to assemble different types of furniture, or step-by-step gardening and houseplant care tips. Useful is the key word.
Use of AR & VR
IKEA’s Pinterest account is not the only channel where customers can gain additional visual guidance when looking to buy a certain product; the free AR-powered IKEA Place app allows the user to visualise rendered 3D versions of all kinds of furniture within a space of their choice. Through a mobile device camera, a room is scanned and customers point to the exact spot where a certain product would be placed by dragging and dropping it.
Another example of the company’s tech innovation is its VR Kitchen Experience, where customers can move around a kitchen and use it before buying it. With the help of two wands, everything from simply grabbing an item to cooking is possible, and the colour of drawers and cabinets can be changed by just pressing a button. Users can also shrink themselves and navigate the kitchen as a 3.3 feet-tall child to see if it poses any danger to their family.
There’s always something new on IKEA’s website
One way that IKEA keeps existing customers engaged is by regularly posting new products and offers to its website. Besides keeping interest in the brand afloat, this leads to users, especially brand evangelists, discussing new additions on social media, which encourages potential customers to visit and find products they may not know they need. And even if you don’t have the need to update your brand’s website as often as IKEA, you may want to do so, considering the SEO benefits this translates into.
Unmistakable brand identity
There are three main aspects of IKEA’s branding that stand out: its minimalist design, the use of solid colours (blue and yellow), and the occasional nod to its Swedish origin through the use of words such as ‘hej’ or ‘tack.’ Moreover, the elements, or lack thereof, in the company’s advertising flawlessly echo its core values of simplicity, cost-consciousness, and renewal.
Is it time to change your brand’s approach?
What works for IKEA doesn’t work for everyone, but adapting and applying any of these lessons into your brand’s marketing strategy can be considered. Whether you need to explore different social media networks, be better informed on the latest technology to utilise, or conduct a more comprehensive market research to better understand audiences, talk to us! At ION, our experience translates to increasing your market share within just 90 days.