Media agencies MEC and Ogilvy & Mather faced a tough challenge earlier this year: to grow the amount each customer spends per transaction at IKEA (known as "ticket size"), a figure which had only seen a mere 2% growth during 2010.
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"For several years, IKEA had achieved growth by opening new stores and thereby pulling in new customers. But in 2011, with only one new store opening planned, footfall could no longer be relied on to drive national growth. To maintain the sales increases of previous years, we would have to sell more to the customers we already had," says Adam Shlachter, MEC's managing director of digital.
"IKEA’s ticket size was low for the industry. This reflected the fact that people tended to see IKEA as a place to get home 'accessories,' not a store for buying 'proper' furniture. To get them to change their behavior, we would have to radically alter their perceptions of what IKEA had to offer them."
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Ogilvy carried out a series of in-home and in-store ethnographies with 35-year-old low-ticket IKEA shoppers to understand why they spent so little -- and how they might be persuaded to spend more.
"There was no doubt that our target knew and loved the IKEA brand. They had grown up with it. IKEA had been the place to go to fill their college dorms and first apartments with stylish and affordable furnishings. But, that was the problem. They associated IKEA with an earlier, simpler and more frugal life stage -- starting out -- so they only viewed it as appropriate for the smaller items in their now expanding homes, like lamps and rugs," says Shlachter.
"We spent time with women in the IKEA store, going through every core area of the home from kitchens to living rooms and bedrooms. Even after trawling the store, when we asked what they liked about the furniture and furnishings, these women were just focused on the smaller items within the rooms, rather than seeing the complete room."
"Essentially, they had retail blindness: They couldn’t see past the items that they loved IKEA for in their twenties. They saw kitchenware, not kitchens. They saw lamps and rugs, not living rooms. They saw pillows and blankets, not bedrooms. They saw college dorms and kids rooms, not grown-up master bedrooms, complete kitchens and main living rooms."
The research revealed that when it came to their homes, these 35-year-olds had bigger concepts in mind than IKEA had realized.
"Our 'a-ha' moment came when we went home with the respondents to see how their living situation affected their furniture needs and choices. What we discovered is that these women aren’t seeing furniture because they aren’t thinking furniture – they’re thinking people. No longer are they self-centered 20-somethings trying to make a fashion statement to the world. They are wives and mothers, driven by the desire to build a happy and harmonious family nest," explains Shlachter.
"It’s not kitchen cabinets that matter; it’s how they make a cooking session with the kids go smoother. It’s not the sofa that counts, it’s the pleasure of relaxing together after a long day. Furniture is a means to an end: Furnishing her own unique vision of happy family life. Of course, details still matter because her idea of the perfect nest isn’t quite the same as anyone else’s. What she craved was personalized inspiration for putting rooms together that could deliver the exact family experience she was dreaming of."
To address the desires of this demographic, Ogilvy and MEC used a canny combination of paid, owned and earned media. The paid part came in with traditional TV, print and online advertising, advertorials and TV integration, as Shlachter explains.
"TV ads showcased IKEA’s range of styles and demonstrated how, with a bit of negotiation, the perfect room can come together in harmony between two people. Print focused on one key style and showed people interacting with each other within that room, giving people the chance to imagine their own family life there. Online display ads highlighted big ticket items, like sofas, while rich media and video units let the user engage to open up a full page living room 'showroom' where they could browse products, download a brochure and find their nearest store."
"MEC deployed editorial integrations that allowed audiences to see IKEA’s stylish and quality products in situations, such as building IKEA furniture into the storyline of HGTV’s hit show Dear Genevieve. TV and magazine editorial integrations lent credibility through association with home and kitchen professionals and celebrities."
MEC also masterminded the use of IKEA stores were for 53 "Life Improvement Seminars" run with media partners such as O, the Oprah magazine, This Old House, Family Circle and Cooking Light, while custom-produced TV programming -- the reality show Fix This Kitchen -- showcased IKEA's kitchen range in a home makeover format.
Meanwhile Ogilvy created the tagline “Made by (insert name), Designed by IKEA” in order to encourage the target to imagine themselves in the rooms shown.
This strategy "put the woman/family firmly in the driver’s seat of making their house a home," says Shlachter. "All forms of advertising had to demonstrate the ability to put a room together with the various styles at IKEA. We also sought out media opportunities that allowed us to appear in places where our target [demographic] uses their mental and emotional energy to dream up, dress up and transform their home."
The Share Space was also set up by Ogilvy. It's an online destination where people could showcase how IKEA had helped them achieve a personalized style in their home and inspire others to do the same. "This was the true embodiment of 'Made By_______, Designed By IKEA,'" says Shlachter, "because it demonstrated to people that IKEA works for different people with different needs and ideals."
"Opening women's eyes to the wider IKEA offering and introducing them to the in-store experience required a completely integrated approach to marketing that took into account the shopper experience from all angles. By showcasing complete rooms at every touchpoint, not just TV, women encountered the wide array of IKEA's furnishings and styles and helped ensure that they were open to spending more in-store," states Caroline Kell, senior planner at Ogilvy & Mather.
"And it worked! IKEA outpaced the category, and these results are extremely satisfying," she say.
Sales grew above expectations at 7.4% (versus the 5% target), especially sales of rooms, which rose 9% for living rooms and 12% for kitchens. In fact, IKEA outpaced industry growth, which was a low 1.05%. The team's goals were exceeded by 55% as MEC and Ogilvy's combined efforts increased ticket size to 6.2%, by successfully driving people to spend more on whole rooms.
On the social side, IKEA's Facebook fan base tripled to 354,000, @DesignByIKEA hit 13,648 Twitter followers in just over a month and The Share Space site saw more than 36,000 unique users within the first month of launch.
“This was a fantastic effort to connect with IKEA’s audience in new and unique ways, delivering messages to create more brand engagement and conversation, and driving discovery of incremental brand experiences, whether online, in-store or with branded content," says Shlachter. "Together, it added up to positive results across the board, helping to improve their business."
Finally, we'll let the client have the last word. "We are delighted with this campaign. It has started to open people’s eyes to our complete offering, and has made an impact in driving our business over the last year," Christine Whitehawk, U.S. communications manager for IKEA, tells Mashable.
Series supported by IDG
The Modern Media Agency Series is supported by IDG. The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Anna Bager believes mobile is the remote control for our lives. With that said, an increasing number of marketers believe mobile will soon have its place in the media mix. Bager talks about how future marketing plans will include mobile devices.
This story originally published on Mashable here.