IKEA virtual flea market may herald the future of online reselling

Tori Floyd

Swedish furniture manufacturer IKEA has just concluded its first virtual flea market, which sought to help its customers sell their old furniture with a boost from IKEA’s marketing department.

While the campaign was, at its core, a unique advertising opportunity for IKEA, it also shows how companies can work with customers using their various digital channels to help sell their goods.

According to Mashable, a Norway-based advertising agency partnered with IKEA Norway to sell the used furniture of 50 customers. Agency SMFB promoted the products online through the IKEA Norway Facebook page, as well as in print, broadcast and billboard advertisements for the second-hand furniture. Each ad featured the name of the person selling it and their phone number, just like a traditional classified ad.

The campaign was designed to promote the new IKEA catalogue under the premise that the people selling their furniture needed to make room for their new IKEA furniture. While the benefit for IKEA is obvious, you can’t overlook how useful it was to the people selling their furniture: Mashable reports that all 50 people sold their furniture during the eight week campaign.

It’s unlikely that we’ll start seeing IKEA stores across the world start selling customers’ old furniture like this, but the pairing of a high-profile brand like IKEA with the person-to-person sales technique of a flea market has a certain appeal. In particular, the company’s Facebook page was treated exactly like a real flea market; users had to be on the page between certain hours, on a particular day, or they’d miss out.

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Online classified services are already an incredibly popular option to newspaper classifieds, but this ad campaign highlights how companies can take it one step further. Featuring furniture with videos and easy accessibility to prices for the items certainly makes it more appealing than the grainy, small photos you’ll often see on online classifieds.

On online classified site Kijiji, for example, people are starting to post videos of their furniture for sale instead of relying on static photos. If you search for an item, you can narrow the search by selecting “ads with video.” You won’t be seeing the same sort of production value that IKEA gave to its customers during the ad campaign, but it’s certainly a sign that as technology changes, people are changing how they do things like sell furniture, too.

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