Is the newest furniture retailer entrant feeling the heat from the discount-laden e-comm space?
After a much-anticipated and incredibly long wait, IKEA - the Swedish furniture maker - opened doors to its first Indian store in Hyderabad, two months ago. This launch was preceded by the brand's first ever communication campaign in India, crafted by Dentsu Impact - a creative arm of the Dentsu Aegis Network.
There has since been a fair amount of curiosity around the brand's communication as IKEA is globally recognised for its great campaigns.
The first Indian store launch witnessed some interesting on-ground activation too.
The brand recently rolled out a series of new films on TV & digital bringing to life some of their hero products.
Indian consumers are known to be price-sensitive and have some pre-conceived notions about international brands being "over- priced". Therefore, it comes as no surprise that IKEA took the myth-busting, price-stating route.
Megha Sadhwani, senior vice-president, Dentsu Impact , says that affordability remains at the center of all IKEA solutions.
She explains, "It is a core promise and something that is a big strength for the brand - the offer of great quality products at extremely affordable prices. In a new market like Hyderabad, where the initial awareness of the brand was very low, it makes complete sense to showcase this promise even in ATL communication. This will only help in making the brand more relatable and inviting to the people."
"In fact," she continues, "the concept of showing price points in brand communication is something that IKEA follows globally as well, and is not something that has been done only in India," she adds.
Given the life-stage of IKEA in the market, and that it aims to provide solutions for home furnishing for the modern millennial Indian, has it tapped the right medium to spread the message?
Any time is a good time for a campaign that brings to life the heroes of the IKEA brand - its products, feels Sadhwani.
"The thematic campaign was aimed at introducing IKEA as a brand to the people of India, a brand that is relatable and offers a refreshing perspective on life at home. This recent campaign on the other hand, seeks to introduce IKEA products in all their glory to our audience. So, for us, it is a natural progression from first introducing the brand to now introducing the product range." she elaborates.
While speaking about the expected TG or whether there are any plans to reach out to the e-commerce friendly millennial shoppers with this new campaign, she states, "The purpose of this communication wasn't to reach out to any specific cohort but to the many people of India. As IKEA is a brand meant for everyone, we wanted to showcase the product range in all its glory, and the tonality, which is fun, quirky and simple, helps make it a campaign that should strike a chord with everyone."
At a time when the world is flooded with communication on discounts, is the brand trying to highlight its brand value by showcasing the product as the hero? Smart marketing strategy? Over to the experts...
Sunila Karir, founder and creative partner, Boing!, is impressed with IKEA's effort of keeping up with an evolved and familiar TG while not straying away from its international image. She is also swayed with the 'intelligently written series of commercials'. Most importantly, she feels it is refreshing and clutter breaking in a time when most sellers are shouting out loud. "The concept of giving their products a character, voice and personality is not new, but I think, in this case it will work because it has repeat and viral value," she says.
She also finds it quite commonplace for every new entrant in the market to flash prices, especially if it is in the economy range.
Carlton D'Silva, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Hungama Digital Services believes they have gone the right route. "Keeping up the international appeal (It's an international format that they follow and hence the inclusion of price point) while informing everyone about affordability seems to be a tried and tested model in all the markets that they have launched in. I don't see why it would not work here," he says.
D'Silva thinks the draw of IKEA is its name and that millennial shoppers would be attracted to shop in-store even if they prefer online shopping.
Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive officer and co-founder, White Rivers Media,is clearly a fan of the brand's strategy and has his reasons too. "They are subtly trying to show the viewers that discounts are not needed. So, to me, it makes a lot of sense."
Gandhi believes this new campaign is a natural extension to the previous TVC, which was more family driven and, according to him, a good way to kick start the campaign.
A clear fit for millennial audiences who are exposed to thousands of e-commerce ads?
"Absolutely! e-commerce audiences look out for snacky TVCs and digital video commercials," he responds.
"The ads were done in English but I would have loved to see the vernacular versions of the ad, which could connect to the target audience better and that is where the bigger masses are," he shares.
Arvind Jain, CEO, NetBiz, a 360-degree digital performance-driven agency, feels the brand has a clear positioning globally as a DIY furnishing option. "To bring this concept to India could be tricky as we generally have outsourced this work to our neighbourhood carpenters. How IKEA bridges this gap will be interesting to see," he says.
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Right now, the brand seems to be on the aspirational side, that is, aimed towards Tier 1 & Tier 2 cities, but Jain seems pretty positive that they would be able to successfully reach out to e-commerce friendly millennial shoppers with this new campaign since they have proven successful in the past and most millennials are already familiar with the brand.