Make Room For Ikea

June 15, 2007 Blog 11 comments


In a desperate bid to get my son to sleep on his own, my wife and I decided to venture to Ikea at Alexandra Road to shop for a “tent”. Well, actually we were looking for a bed canopy which my son Ethan said will help him sleep on his own at night. The current arrangement was that one parent had to spend the night with him in his bed room. This obviously isn’t ideal as you would imagine.

Ikea is one of the world’s leading furniture retailer. It is founded in Sweden by Ingvar Kamprad, who is the fourth richest person in the world with a net worth of US$33 billion. The chain is huge, with 254 stores around the world in 35 countries, and adopts a franchising model of business. One of its key strengths is in “democratic design” which integrates efficient manufacturing and design to capture economies of scale and consumer preferences.
One of my first observations of Ikea is the prominence of its customer loyalty “friends” programme. Its always a good idea to reward regular customers with a membership scheme.

Signages at Ikea are clear and distinct, with its corporate colours of blue and yellow being used prominently.

A bright yellow, brand-inspired Ikea shopping bag which can be conveniently hooked on a shopping cart for ease of transport.

This colourful ball pit and children’s play area at the entrance of Ikea clearly shows where its heart is. If you can occupy the kids for an hour or so, parents are more likely to shop for longer durations.

Obviously, the philosophy of being child-oriented also extends to its product merchandise. Ethan simply loved that soft “puppy” which he was clutching!

Ahhh… food glorious food. I read somewhere before that the restaurant at Ikea was one of the most profitable around the world. In fact, it was a greater cash cow than the furniture retail arm itself! Swedish meatballs anyone?

Cheap and unambiguous prices make Ikea a winner for everybody. Who doesn’t like a bargain every day of the year?

Merchandise displays in Ikea are also prominent and well placed at eye-level. Notice the absence of ugly shelves which block both human passage or view. Almost everything can be seen at a glance.

Interior design is also key in getting customer’s to buy in. What we see aren’t just products laid out in rows upon rows but put together in actual scenarios. I was especially impressed with how they “ID-ed” their childrens’ rooms.

Obviously, I wasn’t the only one!

To cut costs, one of Ikea’s great innovation was to get customers to wrap their own items. Apparently, this isn’t much of a stretch when the price is right.

Even their waiting areas for delivery services had cartoons being screened on televisions to keep customers occupied. A nice touch which obviously doesn’t cost much.

Finally, as part of their positioning as a socially responsible corporate citizen, Ikea does its bid to save the environment. Kudos to the Swedes for teaching us a thing or two on doing our retailing right!

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. I LOVE IKEA! I want to work in IKEA in advertising/marketing department when the chance is there! Thanks for posting up the pictures! Makes me feel like HOME (hey good tagline for IKEA!)


  2. natasshea,

    Ikea certainly is one of the more progressive companies here and perhaps around the world. I always liked the way they market themselves with clever yet sales driven copy and layout.

  3. Interesting post. I have been to Ikea a few times, and have enjoyed the experience (except that I dislike the weekend crowd), and your post reveals how Ikea manages to create that nice experience.

  4. I’m a great fan of IKEA, and agree that they’ve got it right from design, marketing down to the save-the-environment concept. They are popular in the world.

    That may be one reason why NZ is not opening its door to them. Afraid that the mom-and-pop shops would go out of business.

  5. oceanskies,

    Thanks for your encouragement. I have always been intrigued by how they managed to do so well against the local players despite the distance from Sweden to Singapore! There are lots of management lessons from Ikea beyond the service experience and marketing, like supply chain management, product sourcing, inventory management, product design and HR practices. The founder himself has also set a legendary example in leadership by example.

  6. My family goes to Ikea at least once a month, usually for meals. Thereafter, we browse around but rarely buy anything. The food is good, the drinks are on the house and the shopping experience is great. What more can I ask for?

  7. victor,

    I guess that’s the whole idea behind Ikea. That it offers a holistic consumption experience which goes beyond just selling stuff. This is the secret behind its success.

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