Ikea offers big ideas for small spaces

Don Hogsett, Carole Sloan, August 26, 2002

In a move that emphasizes its dedication to providing customers with solutions as well as merchandise, Ikea decorated two trailers and brought them to Union Square here.

Using the theme "Think Cubic," the lifestyle home furnishings retailer created compact, full-service homes in trailers that were 1,120 cubic feet and 1,792 cubic feet.

The purpose of "Think Cubic", said Lena Simonsson-Berge, marketing manager, Ikea N.A., "was to show customers, many of whom live in small spaces that they should think of walls and ceilings as part of their decor. And many of them also have limited amounts of dollars, so we show them it need not be expensive to achieve these solutions."

She added, "even people who are privileged with lots of space find they run out of space, so this approach helps them too."

To reinforce this theme, the company's 2003 catalog features 29 pages of solutions for decorating small spaces, and throughout the catalog, the "Think Cubic" theme is restated on individual product pages.

The merchandise in the two trailers comes from the company's overall assortment; nothing special was designed to accommodate the theme, Simonsson-Berge added. "Nothing was miniaturized; it's all regular size."

The theme is showcased in all Ikea stores with major presentations at the entrances, and displays in designated areas that convey the message, she explained. The marketing effort will support the "Think Cubic" theme "but the stores are the biggest element."

While the Internet "is important, and a modern way of shopping, I don't think it will replace the store or catalog. It is part of the buying process," Simonsson-Berge stated. For Ikea, the Internet does not represent significant volume. "We get some Internet business in non-store locations."

Ikea mails 7.5 million catalogs in the U.S. and 4.5 million in Canada. There are 15 Ikea stores in the U. S., and nine in Canada. A total of five more will open in 2003 in the U.S. and Canada.

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