IKEA – from Sweden to U.S.

1274232_73fe829eIKEA started in a small town in Sweden by Ingvar Kamprad in 1943, selling different products like socks, watches, jewelry, purses, picture frames and so on.  After a couple of years Kamprad started to sell furniture,produced in the forests around Sweden. In 1963, he wanted to expand outside of Sweden, and decided to open up an IKEA warehouse in my homeland of Norway.

I remember as a kid spending many Saturdays in the playing room at IKEA with other kids, so our parents could take their time and walk around buying furniture. When they were done shopping, there was always the promise of Swedish meatballs and ice cream.

Today IKEA is one of the most popular furniture retailers in Norway, where IKEA alone accounts for 36% of the market; I personally think it is because of the variety and their versatile nature of their furniture. The amount of options can be overwhelming, but all kinds of people, whether a student, family with kids, couples without kids, or a single person, can get what they need for their home all from one place.

Knock Knock, Who’s There? IKEA!

In the U.S., IKEA just celebrated their 30th anniversary, and has grown to become the second-largest furniture retailer in the country with 40 stores. The company wants to continue growing, and according to a recent USA Today article they want to “get a little more personal with their customers.”

Three Customer-Centric Moves from IKEA:

  1. To put the customer in focus and make the stores more personal, IKEA is planning on visiting 1,000 customers’ homes a year.
  2. Their goal is to “learn what customers in different markets need and make stores – largely filled with the same streamlined, modern furniture no matter where you are in the world- more local and personalized.”
  3. Lars Petersson, IKEA’s U.S. President said, “The analysis of home visits I would like to see more visualized in stores. That is the way to meet the customer and to have better accessibility … if they recognize themselves”.

Personally, I think this is an excellent plan from a brand I have come to love. This shows a dedication to understanding customers that proves why IKEA continues to delight customers. With this data, the company will create new and exciting buying experience that their customers will love, and it all starts with primary customer research.

After all, it’s not all about the furniture; it’s about the Swedish meatballs.