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The place of inexpensive household dreams: How Ikea aims to shape Indian homes

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Ever laid steps in an IKEA showroom for your new home shopping or to rejig your existing décor? What you come across in the first glance is a massive outlay of furniture options in different colors and designs giving your home the ‘oomph’ it needs.

With the furniture offerings inferring functionality, design and modern living, IKEA slowly yet efficiently emerged as one of the top choices of people around the world to stack their home furnishing with.

The brand, which began in a small village in Sweden is one of the global furniture giants that enjoys an expansive clientele and brand resonation across countries. IKEA stands by the owner Ingvar Feodor Kamprad’s vision, who has his very own story of rags to riches. He sorted a basic idea behind initiating IKEA which was — simple, affordable flat-pack furniture, designed, distributed and sold in-house.

What business vision does IKEA voices as a brand?

Why beautiful products only are made for a few buyers? The possibility to offer good design and function at low prices is what IKEA operates on. The vision of the business is:

“At IKEA our vision is to create a better everyday life for the many people. Our business idea supports this vision by offering a wide range of well-designed, functional home furnishing products at prices so low that as many people as possible will be able to afford them.”

Unlike the profit making objective that underlies every company’s formation, what IKEA wanted was a true brand status, a name that people relate with, and a brand which does more than just increase its profit dividend.

The vision was always to serve people better. The driving idea behind IKEA was, and is, that everyone should be able to afford stylish, modernist furniture and Kampard strategically did that through cutting the making costs and selling more for less.

Today, there are over 300 IKEA stores in the world – in 38 countries, including one grand store in Hyderabad, India.

What does IKEA do differently?

IKEA understands that the concept of decor is self-expression. Moreover, for people today, “home” is to scoop out place and is indefinite to heavily invest in, decoratively, and otherwise. This makes for what we call as modern living.

IKEA has not just been able to give customers a canvas for “self-expression” but it’s “self-expression within a limited budget.” IKEA also fosters temporariness, which suits what the home interior has become, according to Clarke, an interior expert – “a place of transience rather than permanence”.

From Sweden to India – IKEA reaching domestic homes

There’s no second opinion that the store has impressively made its name on the Indian shores and dodged our occasional carpenter or local furniture store needs. Everything that you want in a home, IKEA has got it covered!

Impermanence brought by IKEA aims at changing Indian households, where stacks of furniture and home settings behest change. Our furniture and décor stays same for years but IKEA, through its modern, convertible, DIY offerings tells us that we can change our house as we evolve.

But setting up in India, which holds diverse population was rather challenging. “I am too small and India is too big. Could I understand India, its size, its complexity and diversity? Will my European roots constrain me?” says Maetzu, CEO of Ikea India.

But the concern later changed into a business opportunity, and IKEA seems to be assertive about segmenting into the Indian market. Opening its first store in Hyderabad, IKEA is already planning to further establish its store in Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Mumbai. With 535 staff members and a Rs 10,500 crore investment, the Swedish MNC is already deeply committed. Most corporates dealing with quarter-on-quarter pressure, rarely show such patience. “We are here for the long term,” says Maetzu. “We think of 100 years when we think of our strategy. I have taken no short cuts,” he adds. In order to further keep its operational model relevant, it is also looking forward to operate online. 

The Indian Way 

India will be critical as Ikea chalks out its future path. “In the next 100 years, the sheer size of India makes it important. There are other super big reasons. India is challenging us to find better ways to do business,” says Maeztu. 

Local sourcing and women employees: IKEA’s idea for community building

IKEA has always been a conscious brand, and aims to deliver the right policy framework, land acquisition for its large-format stores, low-cost pricing with strong local sourcing, and having 50% women workers across all levels in Ikea India.

Aiming to create the appropriate preconditions for fostering a mutual development within the brand and the community, IKEA focuses on three key aspects:

  • New Experiments: Introducing renewable, recyclable raw materials like bamboo, coconut waste, water hyacinth and recycled PET.
  • Local Sourcing: The brand has been in association with 80,000 farmers to boost cotton production, and has also employed as well as upskilled 1,200 women artisans.
  • Skilling Women: Coming together with UNDP, IKEA has also made deliberate efforts to introduce a retail skill-building programme called Disha to help women from weaker backgrounds become self-competent.

Not just business driven, the idea is to be society driven. This is what makes IKEA makes a brand of the millennia. As we like to believe that we, the people of today, want more than just tangible benefits, but bring a change for better. The initial roots of change bud with brands like IKEA, which can contribute to the change we so vehemently wish for.

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