CII Retail Summit: Learn the IKEA way

By , agencyfaqs!, Mumbai | In Marketing | July 09, 2007
It's not the brand DNA of the store alone; the retail brand IKEA has been created with a cohesive strategy

One has & #BANNER1 & # heard about retail stores offering not just products, but experiences, but few have lived by that as much as the international furnishing store, IKEA. Addressing the audience at the CII Retail Brand Summit held in Mumbai recently, Nandini Sethuraman, V-P, marketing, strategy and brand development, RPG Retail, presented the IKEA case study, which left Indian retailers with quite a few thoughts to chew on.

As would be expected of any furniture store, IKEA, too, has its furniture displayed in the backdrop of plush interiors that make the shop actually look like a house with various rooms. "However, it's not the brand DNA of the store alone, the retail brand has been created with a cohesive strategy," Sethuraman said. For IKEA, every touch point matters, and it has successfully managed to create a strong demand for its products using these contact points.

Nandini Sethuraman
The first and foremost factor IKEA has put into place is its product range. The store makes adequate noise in conveying that its products are made using only environmental friendly means and materials. "And IKEA walks the talk," remarked Sethuraman. Globally, IKEA works closely with organisations such as UNICEF, Greenpeace and WWF to figure out the best way to produce/maintain furniture without disrupting natural resources.

To show the seriousness of its intentions, IKEA also undertakes other socially responsible activities around the world - for instance, it sells fresh Christmas trees in December, and customers who bring the trees back to the store in January get discounts on IKEA merchandise. Strategies like these not only convey that IKEA is an environment friendly store, but also empower consumers into feeling that they are giving back to the society. Subtly but surely, this also helps in rectifying the problem of slowing footfalls in the month of January.

"The role of a store should be to inspire people," asserted Sethuraman. And IKEA does that through various value-adds. In-house restaurants to encourage frequent visits, nursery stations and ballrooms (play stations) for kids, strollers, and a family hangout area are typical to an IKEA store. Further, as people are hard-pressed for time, they often don't have the time to put their furniture needs together. IKEA offers 'home advisors' to do the job.

"IKEA's marketing mix, too, is very strong," continued Sethuraman. For instance, IKEA publishes the 'IKEA Catalogue' - over 250 pages distributed free to those residing around IKEA stores. The catalogue plays the role of engaging the consumer emotionally with its 'you attitude' and gives an effective product demo to generate demand. It contains information on home/office/holiday furniture all around the theme of 'reclaiming your space'. There are 175 million copies printed in 25 languages across 33 countries around the world every year.

Television advertising, too, hasn't been left untouched. IKEA's 'Styles for Grown Ups' adverts always bear a quirky, humorous undertone to bring out the fact that whatever be one's style, need or budget, 'IKEA fits'.

Next comes online marketing, with IKEA's website reinforcing/mirroring what the store does for people. "As a result of all these efforts," Sethuraman concluded, "IKEA scores above competitors like Wal-Mart in its category."

IKEA will launch in India by 2010.