How Ikea Practices Continual Improvement for its Brand
"There's more to life than furniture" declares a bold headline in a recent Ikea catalog. Perhaps a somewhat surprising statement from the world's leading home furnishings company. But if you know Ikea, then you know that it positions itself as "life improvers." The copy on the catalog spread confirms it: "Everyone deserves to have a beautiful home and still have money left over for other things. At Ikea we're inspired by all the magical moments that happen every day. These moments are what keep us going, evolving and constantly thinking about how to make life at home better, more beautiful, simpler and more affordable."
Ikea improves its customers’ lives in a myriad of ways with products that are developed with little helps (e.g., dish towels and wash clothes with pre-sown hangers on them) to a plethora of ideas for figuring out small space organization to products designed to be kid friendly, doing double and triple duty and encouraging age-appropriate play. Ikea also offers many customer-centric services in addition to its products: home delivery, picking, picking with delivery, assembly, assembly with delivery and kitchen installation.
As perpetual self-improvers, Ikea launched an entire initiative called The Life Improvement Project.
Here's how the retailer describes it: "The Life Improvement house is a collection of projects from people around the country who are making positive changes in every room of the house. We want you to submit your projects, which will then be added within our house. Submitting is easy! Just pick a room, tell us your story and share. You can also browse through the house for inspiration if you're looking for ideas, and even mark your favorites. When you submit a project or add one to your favorites, they'll populate a personal life improvement home of your own to share with friends. Because what fun is being inspired if you can't inspire someone else!"
Ikea's entire global enterprise rallies around the verb improve. Mikael Ohlsson, president and CEO of the Ikea Group, elaborates on this in his yearly summary: "We are many who want to contribute with heart, spirit and all our capabilities to make Ikea a little bit better today than yesterday, and a little bit better tomorrow than today. It's a privilege to be part of this."
Mike Ward, Ikea's U.S. president, commented: "Sales results show that people are continuing to find Ikea the leader in life at home; the place to shop for quality home furnishing solutions at great prices. Despite a challenging economic environment, what we offer is relevant to more and more customers. We remain dedicated to growth, a great shopping experience, as well as being a business strongly committed to sustainability."
Are you a perpetual self-improver? What's your self-improvement plan to hone your merchandising skills and those of your team? As a merchant, what are you doing to improve your customers’ lives in little/medium/big ways? What improvement project might you launch that would generate customer input into your product development process?