Monday, 29 January 2018

Tack, Ingvar!

(Image via

Many of my readers will know that two brands have dominated my working life: Saatchi & Saatchi, and in the 21st century, IKEA. The sad news from Sweden this weekend is that the IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad has passed away in his sleep at the grand old age of 91

I have often pondered the factors behind the success of IKEA. The various press articles and books written on the subject cite everything from product names to meatballs. And they are all (partly) right.

Some of the factors I always come back to when thinking about IKEA are these:

Demographic Design and Vision: Long before it was fashionable to talk about such things, Ingvar Kamprad laid out the Idea and Purpose of IKEA: to create a better everyday life for the many people through affordable Home Furnishings. Those few words say so much and highlight the uniqueness of IKEA. You can copy a product or two, or the hot dogs. But the whole lot? Nah.

The original participative brand: At the risk of repetition, here's another factor that's been in the IKEA DNA long before it was fashionable. IKEA has always involved effort on the part of the customer. 'You do your part, we do ours, and together we save money.' It's well known ('The IKEA Effect' ) that you value more objects to which you've made a contribution.

Then there are a couple of paradoxes at the heart of IKEA which provide a healthy tension, and maybe the 'Marmite' nature of the brand that means it's rarely out of the conversation.

Universal and individual: yes, it's mass-market and yes, the stores look and feel the same. Everyone has collective stories and jokes about IKEA. But once you get BILLY into your home, and fill the bookcase with your stuff, it's uniquely yours.

Change and Ritual: In the same way that our lives at home follow a dynamic of familiar ritual and change, so it is with all aspects of the IKEA brand. The way through the store may be standardised, but there are surprising new products around every corner. 

As I write this, I'm looking at a table in my office. I bought it 22 years ago as a dining table when I first moved to Germany, expecting it to last a few years before we bought something more solid. It's been through three different homes now and although it's currently enjoying something of a holiday from dining (it's the winter indoor home for a couple of hibiscus plants), I suspect it will have a new lease of life in a few years, maybe as a dining table once more when my son moves out.

And maybe this will be Ingvar's legacy. A recycled, renewed IKEA for the 21st century.
'Most things still remain to be done. A glorious future!'  

1 comment:

Sue Imgrund said...