Simple Marketing

What can Ikea teach us?


May 20, 2015

Ikea is universally known for being a fairly unique brand, (if a brand can be ‘fairly unique’). Innovative, smart, bold, simple and having created its own niche, helping us all fill our homes with things we weren’t aware we needed (tea lights), and things that we have to build ourselves.

It gives the likes of me the chance to ‘build’ something then reflect that I am actually a real man with ‘hunter gatherer’ instincts – as long as I am armed with an allen key and comprehensive instructions.

But as a brand, what can we learn from the way Ikea goes about things? The first thing that Ikea has done is move away from the common conception that you need to ‘be the best’. In any industry; in any sector there can only ever be one company that is the best. It is noble to strive, but the reality is you’ll never attain this goal. Sorry to break it to you.

There are a few ways I think Ikea has managed to position itself in a very ‘Ikea way’.

Does the perfect product exist? There is a reason that at every Ikea there is a ‘parts’ cabinet by the exit door, it is a tacit acknowledgement that all the parts ‘may’ not be accounted for. What other brand/shop can get away with this? But customers accept this as a fact of ‘Ikea life’.
Their staff have one goal; getting you home with your stuff, to easily assemble whatever it is you’ve bought. This single goal means the staff have a very unique attitude, their role is simple so they allow the teams personality to shine through. People buy from people.
Everyone seemingly has a ‘building Ikea furniture’ war story, that they regale with pride. Customers lovingly tell their triumphant ‘against the odds’ construction stories. Lugging the large brown boxes into your home can be daunting, but the ‘post-build’ high is fantastic. Demonstrating the brand has their product assembly just right
Ikea furniture has achieved something of a cult status, so widespread is their reach, everyone can relate and understand the shared experiences. My wife and I joke about the number of relationships that have broken up throughout a trip round an Ikea store. The brand has a place in popular culture.
Ikea focuses on a simple premise of supplying affordable furniture, with a service level that is ‘just enough’. This is the accepted conventional wisdom. However with this created positioning it allows the brand to exceed expectations regularly, sparking positive feedback and social comment

So maybe it is time for brands to focus a little more on tangibles and be more honest about their products or services? Why should we all be competing in the same race that we’ll, no doubt, not win. Instead of having the testicular fortitude to create a unique and genuine positioning.

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