Friday, May 13, 2016

20 More facts about IKEA, the world's biggest home furnishing store (Part 2)

When was the last time you were in an IKEA store? If you’re a homeowner, moved into a new apartment or rental house recently, or even sent a child off to college, there’s a good chance you roamed the cavernous halls of the Swedish retail giant not so long ago. But how much do you really know about the household name in furniture with products that are nearly impossible to pronounce?

In part one of this blog we covered the first 20 facts about IKEA but we still weren’t finished unpacking and assembling the great information we found, so here are 20 more facts about IKEA, about the biggest home furnishing company on the planet:

1. While it’s a popular member of many communities in the U.S. now, IKEA wasn’t always such a big hit in North America. In fact, when they opened their first store outside Philadelphia in 1985, customers complained that they couldn’t pronounce the name, couldn’t decipher the merchandise by name, the measurements were all in metric, products weren’t adapted to standard U.S. sizes (like curtains not fitting U.S. windows). In fact, some products were even misused, like European flower vases that Americans used as drink tumblers. Due to these challenges, it took IKEA five years to open another store on American soil, and it really didn’t start gaining acceptance until 1997

2. Every year, 212 million copies of the IKEA catalog are printed in 29 languages and 62 editions. If you’re wondering, that more than doubles the second best-selling book in the world, The Holy Bible.

3. One of the fun things about walking through an IKEA store is following the smell of meatballs to its source – the IKEA in-store restaurants, bistros, and also take-out meals. In fact, IKEA sells a colossal amount of its special Swedish Meatballs: about $1.8 billion in 2013 alone.

4, But their famed meatballs came under heavy scrutiny that same year when…get ready…when horsemeat was found in one batch of the meatballs. IKEA did issue a product recall, but it was believed to be a problem with a larger supplier than affected many brands, not just the store.

5. IKEA has banned games of hide and seek. Apparently, organized games of hide and seek – mostly by adults who coordinate their playtimes via social media – were popular in IKEA stores. But when 19,000 people agreed to show up at a store in Amsterdam to play Hide and Seek, the retailer officially outlawed the game.

6. IKEA uses roughly 1% of the world’s entire commercial supply of wood to manufacture their products. In fact, IKEA’s single particleboard supplier, a company called Hultsfred in Sweden, processes 30 million pounds of sawdust per day for furniture production.

7. Always looking to expand, IKEA has a hotel in Sweden. The Värdshuset IKEA Hotel & Restaurant sits right across from the company’s oldest store in Älmhult, Sweden and features 151 modern and well-furnished (you guessed, it – with IKEA goods) rooms.

8. IKEA’s promotions range from creative to hilarious to downright bizarre, and you can choose your adjective to describe the contest IKEA Malaysia held to promote the reopening of one of their stores. The PR team went on Facebook and asked people to dress up like their favorite IKEA product. That’s right – people dressed up like IKEA lamps, sofas, mirrors, bathroom vanities, and other inanimate objects.

9. Following up on their aim to be socially and environmentally conscious, this year IKEA is converting all of its lighting products to LED, so only LED bulbs, lamps, fixtures, etc. will be sold from this year forward.

10. They also own and operate wind farms with 137 wind turbines around the world producing energy for their stores and manufacturing.

11. IKEA does plenty to contribute to charities and give back worldwide. IN fact, the IKEA Foundation’s donation add up to more than $232 million yearly, and their Soft Toys campaign alone generates more than $12.6 million dollars for the good cause.

12. IKEA’s philanthropic philosophy might not just be good will, but a genius business strategy, because IKEA actually operates as a legal non-profit! All of the IKEA companies are owned by a parent company called Ingka Holding, a private, Dutch firm; and Ingka Holding belongs to Stichting Ingka Foundation, which is a tax-exempt Dutch non-profit. Someone very crafty devised their complicated holding structure, but the end result is that IKEA pays only about $3.5% on its massive $28 billion yearly furniture sales.

13. Have you ever noticed that IKEA product manuals are wordless? That’s right – there is no written text in any of the company’s instruction manuals, just assembly figures. Apparently, adding words to each product’s instructions – and translating them to so many languages – would cost a whole lot of money, not to mention make the manuals so thick they’d be cumbersome and more expensive to print.

14. Speaking of the part about IKEA that’s so bad it’s almost good – the assembly - you’ll clench your teeth and tighten your fists at this fact; around the halls of IKEA they actually call the assembly process, which has sent more than one person to an insane asylum (my best guess), “husband killers.” In fact, the joke goes that it takes 10 hours to put together an IKEA wardrobe – 8 hours for the actual assembly and 2 hours to argue about it.

15. Just how stressful can it be assembling the large IKEA products? Apparently, shopping, hauling, and especially putting together IKEA furniture can incite such strong negative emotions that a Santa Monica, California psychologist sometimes uses the experience in her couples counseling sessions. By instructing the disagreeing duo to complete an IKEA assembly project together and then share the results in therapy, she often reaches relationship breakthroughs (and just as often loses clients.)

16. However, just like everything the well-researched brand IKEA does, the lack of assembled items isn’t an accident. Not only does it help with shipping and consumer transport, but it actually can evoke strong positive feelings of value from owners. A study by the Harvard Business School found that people who had to work hard and even struggle to put together their IKEA purchases tended to assign great value to them than people who didn’t have to do any work.

17. Not only can you buy things for the inside of your house, you can buy an actual IKEA house. That wasn’t a misprint - IKEA sells homes, designed and pre-built by the Swedish company Skanska. Going by product name “BoKlok,” a four-bedroom home sells for about $176,000. Let’s see you strap THAT to the roof of your car and put it together on a Sunday afternoon!

18. IKEA employs “company anthropologists” to study how people use their designs, and often send them to observe in real peoples’ homes. The IKEA customer volunteers are rewarded with gift cards, or bigger prizes for long term studies, allowing the retailer to rig their living space with cameras.

19. In China, shoppers often curl up on one of the IKEA display beds or sofas and take a nap! The snoozing slumbers are socially accepted in China, so other shoppers and store employees usually just let them ZZZZZZ in peace!

20. Have you ever tried to exit your way from an IKEA store, only to feel like you’re in a maze that was specially designed to keep you in? That’s because you are! Just like with casinos, IKEA floor plans are carefully planned to keep you in shopping mode as long as possible, as well as entice you with impulse buy and specially discounted items along the way. But there are short cuts on every IKEA floor that will almost instantly take you to an exit (required in case of a fire) – you just don’t know about them!


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