Tuesday, November 08, 2005


[Pic Courtesy BusinessWeek]

The latest issue of BusinessWeek looks at how the Swedish furniture store Ikea has become a global brand. According to the article, “Ikea World is a state of mind that revolves around contemporary design, low prices, wacky promotions, and an enthusiasm that few institutions in or out of business can muster.” We’ve been to the Palo Alto store a few times and I couldn’t agree more. The article looks at the company’s brand management, marketing, philosophy and strategy and makes for very interesting reading.

As in the case of most couples, my wife I have completely different tastes when it comes to shopping. Stores like Macy’s and Gap tend to be my wife’s favorite haunts while I could spend hours just walking around Best Buy or Fry’s Electronics. But Ikea is one of those rare stores where both the wife and I (and our daughter!) enjoy shopping. With a friendly atmosphere, a cafeteria and several children’s play areas, the store keeps everyone in the family happy.

Ikea is essentially a furniture store but a few minutes inside the store are all you need to understand the “differentiation” they’ve managed to bring to that rather staid business. You walk into other stores with an idea of what you want but when you walk into Ikea, you get new ideas. Unlike other stores that separate furniture based on type (sofas in 1 section, bookcases in another and so on), Ikea sets up entire rooms with its furniture in place. So you actually walk into fully furnished rooms. And these rooms are furnished with everything down to wall-hangings, pen holders, clocks and table lamps. So, as the article says, “you end up buying things you never knew you needed but at less than $2 each you load up on them anyway!”

Ikea also differs from other stores in how much it makes you work! In a marketplace where stores compete in making things easier for the customer, Ikea is as close as one can get to a “do-it-yourself” store. You take the measurements, you get the things(usually unfinished) you want from the warehouse, you haul them to the car, you assemble them at home and you paint them to look like you want them to! This might look like a bad thing but I'm guessing that this is what helps them keep costs(and hence, prices) so low.

With this kind of a unique shopping experience, it should come as no surprise that along with the Golden Gate, Crooked Street, the 17-mile drive and other sights the Bay Area has to offer, the Ikea store too has become a must-see for visitors from India!


At 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love ikea products except that my futons havent been that great...all of this inspite of my not indulging in any Sathi Leelavathy Ramesh Aravind velaigall ;)

but i think in general, their pieces are economical as well as elegant.

bb, have you also bought kids furniture there? ille ille, naan innum ground pakkamey pogala...so, team pathi elaam yosikka venaam...edhukkum kaettukardhu nalladhu thane! ipo sathiki opening partner-a thaedren!!

gosh, i'm in one helluva parthiban mood today! sorry baa...ipove apeetu avaren lest my PG-13 post turns into an R-rated one!

At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i meant, "except that my futons havent been that sturdy"

At 10:42 PM, Blogger Kaps said...

The IKEA family is also among the richest in the world.......their company is probably the top unlisted company in the world.

At 10:53 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

ram, economical and elegant. nice description of their stuff. yep, i've bought a lot of kid stuff there... table/chair, bookshelves, etc.

kaps, true. i was actually surprised to learn that ikea wasnt public...

At 10:30 AM, Blogger mitr_bayarea said...

Balaji: Absolutely right..IKEA has become one another sthalam to take folks visiting from India. Every time i go to their store, it amazes me to see how much of creativity has gone into each and every aspect of putting out their furniture display.

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Me too said...

It was a very long time ago that I had been to an IKEA store and somehow I thought they were kind of 'koNA-mooNA' designs and (multi)colours! Now after reading your comments, I wonder if I am talking about the same store?

At 1:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

IKEA opened a store in Stoughton, MA yesterday. I heard that there was a guy camped outside for a few days so he can be the first one to get in...I don't know. Maybe they had a promotion going. But I will check it out one of these days...need to get some furniture for my new place.

At 3:50 AM, Blogger Rajesh said...

IKEA has a big show room here in
Neasden in London.

I dont know how they maintain
the same sort of friendly and family atmosphere all through out the world.

Might be each frachisee would get
training in that too...

Also products are cheap but with
better quality.

At 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow e frame futons

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