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If you’ve ever been in an Ikea, you know it can feel more like a museum than a department store. Yellow lines on the floor navigate you through living pictures of bedrooms, kitchens, offices, etc. Until now, Ikea focused on the traditional sell of entire rooms. Now, they shift toward individual “Wonderful Everyday” products, as evidenced by their new promotions.

This strategy shift is likely a response to changing consumer behavior. Due to trends like late marriage, delayed child bearing, buying homes later, and living in more urban spaces, millennial homeownership was eight percentage points lower in 2015 (The Urban Institute, 2018). In generations past, young people bought houses as early as they could. Now with rising housing costs and the effects of student debt, millennials just aren’t buying homes. As a result, they aren’t buying entire room sets. They don’t need nurseries, or they have a half kitchen, or they only need a few extra things because their roommate is bringing some furniture to their new shared apartment.

But it’s not just millennials who prefer products over rooms. One thing that hasn’t changed about consumer behavior is that there are always consumers looking for a touch up to make their home that much more expressive, or to refresh it across chapters of their lives. Journalist Joan Kron said in the New York Times, “In a way, the house should never be finished because it’s a living object. As you grow and you get older, you want the room to be different.”

Ikea’s new product campaign “New Wonders Can Come Out of the Blue” (in reference to their big blue bags) will spotlight a few products they believe can transform a home without the need of all new furniture. Starting in the UK, Ikea will feature a “New at Ikea” section on the website and in store with continuously refreshed offerings.

Along with the shift towards products comes the opportunity to bolster their position as a digital retailer. Ikea is known for their physical set-ups, and most people making big-purchase furniture decisions prefer to see the items in person, aided by the style designs of the room set-up. However, individual products need much less interactive showcasing. Their marketing shift brings an opportunity to move from physical to online catalogue, and as we’ve also seen from consumer behavior trends, online retail is the future. Can it be Ikea’s?

 

From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to think about:

  • What are the potential risks associated with Ikea’s product focused marketing strategy? With a shift toward online retail?
  • How can Ikea continue to appeal to millennials as they grow older?
  • In terms of the “New Wonders Can Come Out of the Blue” campaign, what things might a marketing manager look at to determine campaign success?