IKEA Makes Home Visits
People often consider IKEA a style leader. In actual fact, though, it is their customers’ style preferences that are used to guide their product offerings.
In the U.S., IKEA uses its website to find customers willing to host home visits, as they did in the Twin Cities, advertising, "We’d like to see how you truly live at home, so we can make sure the solutions we show in-store can really improve your life." The New Yorker adds that those who agree receive credit vouchers while telling their visitors "what frustrates customers about IKEA products."
New Jersey’s Star-Ledger describes the approach taken by Marty Doorley, communication and interior design manager at IKEA Home Furnishings, who "conceives IKEA displays" and uses consumers’ homes to "illustrate how challenges might be addressed." He and his team make some 40 visits each year, all pre-arranged for fact-finding purposes. They are not intended to solve the problems of customers visited, rather those of future customers to the store.
One reason for recent success in the U.K., according to The Guardian, was the 500+ home visits made in the past year. The article quotes Carole Reddish, acting manager for the UK and Ireland, who said that IKEA had redesigned its displays, in particular bedrooms, based on the changing lifestyles they observed. The company found that more children are returning to their parents’ homes following university and backpacking adventures because living on their own is not affordable. These customers are looking for a more "grown-up space." The article says that "families are staying together longer or moving back together. More people are taking care of their [elderly] parents." There are also adjustments to be made because of more cramped living conditions.
A multi-million pound investment in both stores and website resulted in an increase of 6.3 percent in like-for-like sales in the U.K. and Ireland for the year to August 31, its biggest increase in six years.
For what Mr. Doorley describes as families who often know what they want, but not know how to get there, IKEA is going straight to the horse’s mouth for advice.
- IKEA Twin Cities – Home Visits – IKEA
- House Perfect – Is the IKEA ethos comfy or creepy? – The New Yorker
- Ikea bucks retail trend – The Guardian
- Interior design: living in a small house lets Ikea designer test home organization ideas – The Star-Ledger
What do you think about IKEA’s home visits? What can other retailers learn from the practice?