New Brunswick and Sweden Collide (by way of Elizabeth)

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On Wednesday, February 15th, students from Professor Burgess’s Marketing for Business and Sciences class made the journey to IKEA in Elizabeth, New Jersey to experience a taste of what the Swedish furniture giant has to offer (in more ways than one!). 

With its sleek, and at times, minimalist design, Ikea sticks to the new-Nordic tradition of functionality and style.  There is no better way to describe the location than massive and all-encompassing.  The warehouse, which it truly is, carries everything from full dining and bedroom sets, to toys, kitchen gadgets, and batteries. 

The building layout leads customers through a flawlessly designed path, meant to expose each potential consumer to all that the store has to offer.  Starting in the showroom, shoppers follow arrows through the entire furniture department.  After a pit stop to enjoy some traditional Swedish meatballs or other enticing cuisine (and possibly a game of bingo or a trip to the ball pit) customers meander through the lower level marketplace which is a supermarket, big-box store, and department store all rolled into one.

To the average consumer, Ikea’s layout and design seems simple, functional and easily navigable.  To the discerning eye of the wily Marketing student, there is so much more.  The marketing team at Ikea has honed in on its key market segment of teens, young adults, and starter families with a strong focus on the under-35 demographic.  Each perfectly staged room includes imagery to aid the consumer in envisioning themselves or their family enjoying the space.  The Ikea marketing team aligns the design and experience with known customer values such as safety, family, and fun.

Classic consumer loyalty perks are employed such as a loyalty program, downloadable app, and rewards or special pricing opportunities.  Ikea isn’t just looking to sell you a bean bag chair today, they’re hoping to furnish your college dorm, your first apartment, and the starter home for your eventual family.

To round out the customer experience, the furniture selection and pickup service are design for maximum ease in order to facilitate the purchase.  Purchasers need only write down the item they like and it is delivered to a convenient loading dock area.

Last, but not least, in our current culture of social and environmental responsibility, Ikea is doing their part (and letting their customers know about it too).  Social and ethical initiatives range from sustainably sourced lumber, cotton, and even seafood to investments in those potentially affected by climate change.  Other initiatives include Earth Day cleanups, selling UNICEF cards, and the Ikea Foundation aimed at investing in youth in developing countries.  Customers leave Ikea not only with their purchases, but with a sense that they were purchased from a company concerned with the greater good.

So whether you’re shopping for lingonberry jam (one of my several purchases of the day) or a new living room and don’t want to make a transatlantic flight, Ikea is the place to go.