Since 2014, IKEA has done global research studies to find out how people actually live day to day in their homes. Instead of seeking to segment their market further, IKEA’s goal with this research is to find commonalities in how we view our homes and how our day-to-day is changing worldwide. In order to realize the company vision of creating a better everyday life, IKEA needs to know how our homes are changing to develop new products, explore new collaborations, fund alternative research, and address their customer’s evolving needs in their marketing.
In this year’s life at home report, IKEA explored the feelings people associate with a sense of home. They found that for a place to feel like home, people need a sense of privacy, security, comfort, ownership, and belonging. Their research came away with a few facts about how our experience of home is changing.
Many things are driving these changes among consumers. IKEA’s research revealed that 1 in 4 people work from home, blurring some of the lines between our public life and private space. We are also sharing our homes (IKEA, 2018). 1 in 4 people living with strangers use AirBnB to monetize their home (IKEA, 2018). These unconventional living arrangements are changing the way we view our homes in terms of the 5 emotional factors IKEA identified. For example, more of us are living in smaller spaces with ever-changing roommates, and that directly affects our privacy, the security and sense of belonging and ownership. People who live with strangers are more likely than people who live with family to find a sense of home outside of the place where they live.
[CHART: When Home Doesn’t Feel Like Home, (IKEA, 2018)]
IKEA is already using this research to develop new lines of products and explore new collaborations with other brands. The 2016 report explored how our senses really bring us into our homes, almost none as strong as scent, and now they are collaborating with Byredo on a home fragrance line. They are also actively collaborating with LEGO, in part because of their shared interest in play at any age as well as a sense of the nostalgic. IKEA has been paying attention to the rise in e-sports and will be collaborating with Area Academy and UNYQ on bespoke professional gaming seats that will be custom printed using 3D body scanning. Imagine a professional gamer being able to identify home with his bespoke computer chair. They are also collaborating on lines with Solange Knowles’ Saint Heron brand, Design Indaba with 10 designers from Africa focusing on urban modern living, as well as Adidas (Keller, 2018).
Many people may not think of IKEA as a major innovator because its presence is so ubiquitous in our lives, but that would be an oversight. They freed the furniture customer from a burdensome, 20+ year choice to buying what they needed for their life now (Lutz, 2015). The combination of price and durability took furniture out of the ‘heirloom’ category and into something much more functional and efficient (from the way it’s designed, packed, shipped, and assembled). Currently, IKEA works with Space 10, an ideas lab in Copenhagen. Space 10 headed IKEA’s AR offerings. In 2014, IKEA launched an AR catalogue feature and recently developed IKEA Place with Apple’s ARkit, which lets you see a piece in your home using your iPhone. Space 10 also developed open-source hydroponic grow room plans for CNC printing which have been downloaded over 30,000 times. IKEA is looking at ways to print furniture on site rather than shipping it around the world (Keller, 2018). Space 10 also does research related to life in the future, like developing more sustainable foods (this project alone is fascinating), how to live better as urban environments grow more compact, loneliness, and how the customer would like to relate to AI (Keller, 2018).
IKEA conducting this type of customer analysis and using it to further collaborate and influence think tank projects keeps the brand able to stay a few steps ahead of their consumers. They’ve established a 2-way dialogue about how we are living now, and how we might in the near future. I can see this when I open my catalogue each year; they’ve designed a new product or written an article about a problem I didn’t know I was having. The PS 2014 collection ad was perfectly timed for a year where I moved 6 times. Full disclosure: I’ve moved an obscene amount of IKEA furniture on the subway; I’ve been that person with a shelf on SEPTA. They’ve also positioned themselves as a sustainable leader, forward thinking, playful, and accessible. I am interested to watch their marketing going forward because I will be looking for how they incorporate the emotional sense of home into their messaging. I’m wondering where they will explicitly talk about privacy, security, and belonging. It will be interesting to look towards their growing smart home line and how it interacts with personal assistants and AI. I already can’t wait to read next year’s report and how our daily routines are evolving. This is really an opportunity to watch how digital disruption affects how even a straightforward furniture business will have to engage with its customers.
- IKEA. “IKEA Life at Home 2018.” IKEA Life at Home 2018, 2018, lifeathome.ikea.com/home/.
- Keller, Hadley. “IKEA to Collaborate with Lego, Adidas, Sonos, and More.” Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, 7 June 2018, www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ikea-lego-adidas-sonos-solange-knowles-virgil-abloh-olafur-eliasson-collaborations.
- Keller, Hadley. “Inside the Think Tank Where IKEA’s Most Innovative Ideas Are Born.” Architectural Digest, Architectural Digest, 27 June 2018, www.architecturaldigest.com/story/ikea-space10-bug-burger-hydroponics-innovative-idea.
- Lutz, Ashley. “Ikea’s Strategy For Becoming The World’s Most Successful Retailer.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 15 Jan. 2015, www.businessinsider.com/ikeas-strategy-for-success-2015-1.