“Ok, but if we are going to Ikea, you must be prepared to spend all day there,” is a common warning that I say to my friends. So, you can easily guess that I would most certainly we considered an Ikea brand fanatic. In fact, so much so, that I once told an inquiring home builder friend of mine that my perfect home could be summed up by the phrase, “Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, Ikea interior design.”
But, in reality, my warning of it being an all-day trip is not unusual and it’s exactly what Ikea wants. A core component of retail marketing is coming up with new and innovative ways to keep customers in the store and Ikea has mastered this.
Here is a quick list of some of the key ways Ikea keeps you in their stores:
- They design their stores like a maze, so it’s virtually impossible to get out without going through the whole store. I’ve been to the Ikea closest to me enough that I know the shortcuts. But if you are visiting an Ikea for the first time, you’ll find it easy and yet, slightly painful, to have to cover every inch of the store to get what you want.
- They make their stores incredibly interactive. The top floors of Ikea are usually demonstration areas that look like a series of small apartments or homes. Guests are encouraged to go in and out of each of these “homes” and see how Ikea products could really be used. For an active learner like me, this is heaven. I get to touch everything, sit on things, open cabinets, and try to get the non-slamming cabinets to slam (a personal favorite game of mine).
- Think those tasty and very inexpensive meals at Ikea restaurants are so they can make their customers happy? Think again! By offering food options, Ikea ensures that you won’t leave, just because you get hungry. And, of course, the food gets you to sample their food products, which you can also purchase. In case you are curious, I recommend the meatballs.
- They also watch your kids for you for free while you shop! As a retailer, they know that happy children means parents can stay in the store longer and shop, which means increased sales for them. It’s not really a new concept. In fact, the grocery store I visited as a child gave each kid a cookie to keep them happy while their parents shopped. But offering free daycare for an hour is definitely a ramped-up effort.
- In addition, they have small play areas strategically placed in areas that parents may need to spend a good portion of time in. For example, in the store I visit, there is a small play area next to the cabinet design portion of the store so the children can play while their parents design their new cabinets.
Now, Ikea is at it again with a new twist, Manland. When I would go to Ikea as a child, we would make it to the chair department and there my father would take a seat in his favorite chair and relax with a book until we were done shopping (or needed him to pay for lunch!). Now, it seems, Ikea has a better idea for my father. Now he can go to a space specifically designed with him in mind including TVs, snacks, games, etc. Or, at least, he could on Father’s Day in Australia. Permanent or not, it seems Ikea is at it again, finding new ways to keep customers in their store and spending money.
Special thanks goes to my friend Nate Block for knowing my obsession with Ikea and forwarding me the information on Manland.