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Question:

Discuss about the IKEA Strategic Communication Strategy.

A campaign can be understood of as a series of advertisement message that share a single idea and a theme which make up an integrated marketing communication (IMC). These campaigns utilize diverse media channels over a particular time frame catering to its audience. Campaigns are launched to achieve an objective, usually of a large scale over a period of time. A campaign can have objectives like, increase in sales, communicating some product knowledge, educating the customer etc (Luxton, Reid & Mayondo, 2015)

The case study looks at the Swedish giant IKEA, which is not only surviving difficult economic times, but is rapidly expanding its retail presence in the Asia Pacific (APAC). One of the major highlights of IKEA’s success has been its innovative multichannel distribution and communication strategy. IKEA was smart to notice that the retail market has evolved in terms of the purchasing behaviour, people were using high street retail chains to look for the product and then they track it down online to get the best buy. IKEA understood this pattern and wanted to make most of it. Hence, it entire strategic communication focussed towards getting the customer in the outlet and making them stay (Ngai & Falkheimer, 2017)

 

  • IKEA operates a highly effective multichannel distribution and communication strategy that successfully blends the physical outlet with a paper catalogue as well as online shopping (Garvey, 2017)
  • Printing of 198 million copies, in 56 editions, in 27 different languages in the year 2010, was a great communicative strategy.
  • Atmospheric and store design, IKEA quickly noticed that atmospherics, a term popularly coined by Philip Kilter, was a very important part of buyers behaviour. IKEA stressed on the store design as a part of its strategic communication, because it is a fact that, consumers interact in a pleasant atmosphere and thus IKEA captivated that aspect(Spence, Puccinelli, Grewal & Roggeveen, 2014)
  • IKEA’s store entrances communicating the corporate logo and “Brand Sweden” connotations, all stores have exteriors and entrances emblazoned in colours match Swedish flag. Global surveys have associate Swedish products with extremely high level of quality, technological innovation, user friendliness and social responsibility (Kristoffersson, 2014)
  • IKEA restaurant not only lets customers stay in the outlet for long, but also offers them low priced, exclusively Swedish menu which matches the brand value of the store, an absolutely brilliant strategy by maintaining the uniformity(Douma, 2016)
  • Shoppers are constantly reminded of IKEA’s value association via messages throughout the store. The shopping experience reinforces the concept of value obtained through self service, which is also communicated in the in store map (Wolf & Wispeler, 2015)
  • IKEA’s another brilliant part of campaign was its flat pack furniture items, it sends out a clear message related to the added value that the customer gain by choosing to construct the items themselves (Tiwari, 2015)
  • IKEA has prepared the store, with the communication in mind that it’s for the customers to shop themselves. In all their stores this communication is persistent, also their refund policies being fantastic, makes customers put their trust with IKEA
  • Another key objective of the campaign is to keep the customers in the store for maximum time; this they manage by taking care of shoppers basic needs, child rooms, restaurants etc. This facilitates the customers to go through lengthy merchandize which are all over the store. A resolute concept and a great communicative strategy (Prange, 2016)
  • The store increases its customer interaction by placing in kitchen planners, interior planners etc., and so more the interaction the chances of conversion increase by a fair amount.
  • IKEA has a different communication strategy for its different target groups- for examples they have product range exclusive for singles, young families, the colouring of the interior is according to the target group, this all encompasses a beautiful designed communication strategy made for all its target groups.

These are some of the best ideas of the campaign. IKEA sure is a market leader when it comes to taking the concept of Place from 7P’s of marketing this seriously and making something really engaging and big out of it. IKEA’s entire communication strategy is based on the store designs and layout, it’s atmospheric and the way it pleases people, make them feel at peace and adds fun to their shopping experience (Lofgren, 2015)

In the context of this case study, in my personal opinion I did not find any bad point in the campaign , but, yes , if relatively the campaign identifiers are kept in mind, some factors can be termed as inconsiderate or relatively bad.

  • IKEA I order to engage with the customers keeps them busy in huge lines, allowing them a chance to view its entire product section and wide range of product. This is a good strategy of communication, knowing the day of shopping is a weekend or some relaxed day, but in normal daily hours, this would certainly bring in irritation to the customers as to why they have to go through the lengthy walk in order to make a purchase.
  • Another communication strategy, which in my opinion is great but has certain flaws attached to it, for example when a shopper enters the store, he looks through the product he is wishing to purchase, and then have to get in the line which goes to the main hall, where the billing counter is, a lot of items are placed over their which does not suit the requirement of buyer, but are just kept to initiate impulse purchase. This is somewhat deceiving the customer, by luring them in, a good communication strategy for business but not so good for the pocket of customer.

As mentioned earlier, the campaign of IKEA is flawless, with little or less scope to improvement, but yes, having said that, the store had some points in the campaign which lies at both sides of the spectrum.

IKEA had specific goals related to the campaign as discussed in the case study, some of the strategies it used in order to achieve those goals are

Goals & Objectives

Strategy

Communicating corporate image and differentiate from competition

Flat pack self-assembly furniture

Low cost restaurant with Swedish food

Special offers, loyalty card, membership, family card

Staff uniforms

Displays showing product quality testing

Complement other channels of communication-for example media campaign support

Consistent messages, images and themes throughout the store, even in rest rooms and café that matches the communication of other channels as well.

Catalogues available in store for customers to collect carry and make notes in.

Communicate range of services and products on offer

Visible and accessible staff help information points

Store maps, layout information & clear signage

Facilitate efficient and friendly service delivery

Staff uniforms

Adequate parking

Adequate check out and car pick up points

Standardized design/formats across the network

Increase the customer interaction and build relationship

Store loyalty membership card

Kitchen planners, catalogue dissemination etc.

Create appeal for specific customer segments/target group

Colour schemes and designs that appeal to specific target groups.

Product ranges specific to the target group.

Provide a comfortable shopping environment and favourable customer experiences

Restaurant, child rooms, rest rooms

Physically comfortable and aesthetically pleasing environment

Appropriate temperature and humidity

Use of complementary colour schemes.

Strategy

IKEA believes in creating an experience for its customers, rather than the product. IKEA is one of the few companies who have understood very early, that the only way to get customers engage with the brand is by enriching their experience. Many companies have fail to understand this concept, and so keep on tweaking their product and services, and do not focus on the experience, IKEA though have kept its head high and worked towards enriching the experience of customer, which has helped them build a connect and relationship with the brand. IKEA has throughout maintained its brand identity, the signage’s, the Swedish flag design on the entrance of the stores, across the globe, resonates its values of great quality of product, technological innovation with its customer, this helps them in connecting with the customer. It’s like if a person witnesses a kitchen, he would know its IKEA’s kitchen, which is the strong brand identity of IKEA. The brand is great at designing its content; IKEA understands the relevancy and importance of good content creation. It’s brilliant catalogues, in 27 different languages and in 50 different editions is a remarkable proof of it. IKEA does everything possible to know its customers really well, and hence uses kitchen planners, catalogue dissemination for it, the company has various forms lying around the store walkthroughs, where customers can leave in their feedback, and IKEA is one company who takes the feedback seriously in an ode to improve the customer experience.

The ideas in the campaign, gives an important insight on Atmospherics, IKEA with a strong focus on Place, from 7P’s of marketing has done wonders for it. IKEA is known all across the globe for its beautiful aesthetic store designs and layouts. It’s out of the class designing, colours matching to the target group of the consumers, it’s in store merchandising etc. strikes a chord with its customers. Hence, my learning is, if you want to be best at your game, focus on all the 7P’s of marketing, keep the overall marketing communication consistent across all the channels and focus on enriching the customer experience with the brand (Li & Zhang, 2016)

References

Ver?i?, D., 2016. Why Invest in Strategic Communication? Because It Creates Value. Communication Management Review, 1(01), pp.28-40.

Thomas, G.F. and Stephens, K.J., 2015. An introduction to strategic communication.

Peppard, J. and Ward, J., 2016. The strategic management of information systems: Building a digital strategy. John Wiley & Sons.

Luxton, S., Reid, M. and Mavondo, F., 2015. Integrated marketing communication capability and brand performance. Journal of Advertising, 44(1), pp.37-46.

Ngai, S.B.C. and Falkheimer, J., 2017. How IKEA turned a crisis into an opportunity. Public Relations Review, 43(1), pp.246-248.

Löfgren, O., 2015. Design by IKEA. A Cultural History.

Tiwari, S., 2015. Standardized marketing strategies: a solution to the global competition? A case study of IKEA in Norway, Sweden, France and China (Master's thesis, Universitetet i Nordland).

Douma, P., 2016. The fundamentals of a co-creation campaign(Master's thesis, University of Twente).

Prange, C. ed., 2016. Market Entry in China: Case Studies on Strategy, Marketing, and Branding. Springer.

Li, J. and Zhang, Y., 2016. Chinese Consumers’ Attitudes toward Experiential Marketing: The Case of IKEA.

Spence, C., Puccinelli, N.M., Grewal, D. and Roggeveen, A.L., 2014. Store atmospherics: A multisensory perspective. Psychology & Marketing, 31(7), pp.472-488.

Garvey, P., 2017. Consuming IKEA and Inspiration as Material Form. Design Anthropology: Object Cultures in Transition, p.101.

Garvey, P., 2017. Consuming IKEA and Inspiration as Material Form. Design Anthropology: Object Cultures in Transition, p.101.

Kristoffersson, S., 2014. Design by IKEA: a cultural history. Bloomsbury Publishing.

Wolf, L. and Wispeler, A., 2015. Format Development and its Effects on Store Image–A Case Study on the inner-city IKEA Hamburg-Altona.

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