Understanding the Power of Idea Development on a Field Trip to IKEA

Note from Professor Mark Burgess, CEO, Blue Focus Marketing: On Thursday June 23, 2016, my Rutgers University graduate class in Market Assessment and Analysis participated in a unique field trip for 27 students in the MBS Master of Business & Science program.   The trip was to the IKEA store in Elizabeth, New Jersey.  The purpose was to analyze this well-known brand’s customer experience (CX) strategy. The students assumed the role of marketing consultants.  As author Brian Solis tells us: “Customer experience is the sum of all engagements and interactions with a customer … it’s what your customer feels, thinks, says (to you and others). “ 

     Ideas are everywhere. They come to you while you’re in the shower, driving back home, traveling on the train or subway, waiting for the bus, or while you’re thinking about the people you love or care about.  They also appear when you think about the future or the past - the moments, experiences, and things that make you feel comfortable, happy, excited, or understood. But the real power of these ideas comes not from their arrival alone, but from their development. Realizing ideas through the results of our work, and, even better, solving real problems or improving lives through this work, is where ideas gain their true importance. It is evident that IKEA understands this and many other things that have lead the company to achieve its outstanding position on the American market and around the world.

     But what makes IKEA so special? What role does its marketing strategy play in its success? Those are just some of the questions that a bunch of Rutgers students are looking forward to answering this summer. To help us do so, the Marketing Assessment and Analysis for Business & Science[1] class made a field trip to IKEA. Although some of the students have been there before, this time, it was not a regular shopping trip. Since the very beginning of the course, students were encouraged by the instructor, Mark Burgess[2], to start thinking critically about the “IKEA experience” as a means to interact, influence and engage the customers, even before visiting IKEA. Thus, students analyzed the brand’s presence on different media, focusing on social media channels like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Also, IKEA’s blogs and website were checked in order to understand how the company interacts with the audience.

     During our visit to the Elizabeth, New Jersey store, students were determined to focus on every detail of the experience in order to identify the marketing strategy, which includes the 4P’s: Product, Promotion, Price, and Placement.  During the field trip, each group analyzed, discussed and noted elements from a new perspective. At the entrance, we, along with other store customers, were able to get a ruler and a pencil to not just take notes of the items that we liked, but also to take measurements along the way.

     Some people may agree that walking through IKEA is like visiting one of your friends’   houses, but one in which, if you like something, you will know where to buy it, no need to ask. Moreover, ideas are spread all over the store, letting the customers know how the products they have the chance to acquire will look in their own houses. But students were aiming to go further, paying attention to prime features like IKEA Family and how the new products are highlighted. Even if your smartphone has no data, IKEA has Wi-Fi that you can use, because after all, you are at your friend’s house.

     Do you want to design your own spaces? No problem. IKEA offers you stations to design using some stations around the store, providing you information and a 3D representation.  Afterward, you can order right there after creating an account. Hungry? No problem. You are welcome at the restaurant and café, and no need to check out before going there. Also, there are tips, security advice, instructions and more available all over the place. Have you seen something that does not make sense to you? Well, maybe you will want to take a look at the description the store has displayed from the designer, so you can better understand and share the concept behind the product.

     According to Professor Mark Burgess, “After observing the CX from the customer’s perspective, the student teams are now in a better position to recommend improvements in customer experience design.  As one student told me, ‘this was a great opportunity to observe first-hand the importance of creating a good customer experience, and is valuable input for completing our final term project.’” To complete the summer course, students will make a presentation that highlights the insights they drew from their research and field experience, as well as provide comments, impressions, and recommendations for improvement. We are excited to see the interesting discussion in which different ideas, opinions, thoughts and experiences will converge.






[2] Mark Burgess is author of the best seller The Social Employee and is among the top 20 content marketing influencers. …. @mnburgess