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IKEA is a worldwide recognized home furnishing seller. It has developed quickly since it was started in 1943 by Ingvar Kampard. At present it is the world’s leading furniture retailer, renowned for its Scandinavian mode. The mainstream of IKEA’s products is flat-pack, all set to be accumulated by the consumer. IKEA is offering more than 9,500 products including a complete range of home and office furnishings, equipment, lighting and accessories. This extensive range is obtainable in all IKEA outlets, and consumers can order a good deal of the collection online through IKEA’s website. At this point there are 18 outlets in the UK, with the first one launched in Warrington in 1987. In July 2009, IKEA introduced its products in Ireland and opened an outlet in Dublin (Times, 2010).

Over the last 60 years, IKEA has grown from a simple entrepreneur into a cluster of companies with 76,000 associates. At the same time, an exceptional corporate culture with its own set of principles has been developed. The achievements of IKEA have been built upon zeal and eagerness, upon a steady aspiration to renew and progress, upon cost-consciousness and readiness to provide a hand and take accountability (IKEA, 2003).

IKEA is a one stop store for all the requirements at residence, offering a variety of household and office products. These products have been carefully selected for the customers to be able to make their homes more attractive and comfortable. The consumers have access to all kinds of merchandise under one roof which makes the whole shopping experience a great one. A wide variety of products and designs one can select from attracts millions of customers to IKEA stores across the globe every year. The key goal of IKEA is to assist customers in implementing their own ideas in beautifying their surroundings by offering them an extensive range of well premeditated furniture and ornaments for their homes and offices at a very reasonable price.

Sweden is where the foundations of IKEA come from, while its product designs are derived from different parts of the world making it one of the most diversified and progressive companies. At IKEA, customers are allowed to explore different products and make their buying decisions with the assistance of the IKEA staff.

Characteristics of IKEA

Both for the company’s customers and for its co-workers IKEA is a combination of unique characteristics. Simplicity is an essential factor at IKEA. It is obvious in everything from the way the management operates to the way employers and employees relate to one another and to the customers. Managers and associates work together, utilize the same car parks and eat side by side in the same cafeterias (IKEA, 2003).

The company’s personnel are an immensely important resource for IKEA, and they are constantly working together to improve things and enhance the quality. By daring to be unique, to believe differently and to inquire about the way things are done, IKEA copes with difficulties and excels in its field (IKEA, 2003).

IKEA is also famous for offering the same product variety in all countries. The number of the companys products ranges from 8,000 to 10,000 depending on the outlet’s dimension. The international strategy adopted by the company consists in adjusting to the specific peculiarities of the country in which an outlet is operating. The store locations, design and display are adjusted according to the overall market requirements and consumer behaviour. For instance, in China, the store layouts imitate the design of many Chinese apartments, and because many Chinese apartments have balconies, the outlets even contain a balcony sector (Miller, 2010).

IKEA exhibits its massive range of more than 10,000 items in cheap out-of-town outlets. Most of its products, especially furniture, are sold as knocked-down kits, for customers to take the products to their homes and amass themselves. The company wins considerably due to the dimension of each store and the large production runs made possible by selling the same variety of furniture all around the globe.

This enables the company to compete with business rivals on quality, undercutting them by up to 30% on price (Artisan, 2004). An IKEA store, with its mouth-watering crèche and Scandinavian coffee, is believed to be an absolute shopping destination for value aware, car-borne customers. In the Harvard Business Review, Richard Norman and Rafael Ramirez pointed out that IKEA had obliged both consumers and suppliers to imagine worth in a new way “In which customers are also suppliers (of time, labour, information and transportation), suppliers are also customers (of IKEA’S business and technical services), and IKEA itself is not so much a retailer as the central star in a constellation of services” (Artisan, 2004).

Out of the numerous exceptional characteristics of an IKEA store, possibly the most attractive characteristic to the buyers is the appropriate names given to every stock-keeping unit (SKU). Diaconis, a marketing manager of IKEA, said, “Instead of simply calling a product 123456, we name a bookcase ‘Billy’ or a fabric ‘Anna’, Sofa names are usually cities or rivers in Scandinavia, fabrics are steaks’ names, and the wall units are boys’ names. The reason is that IKEA wants to project the feeling that the products are a part of the family” (Artisan, 2004).

Operations of IKEA

IKEA is highly concerned with the company’s internal operations. It has always ascertained a target price before creating a product. This method was in contrast to the normally followed practice of initially developing the product, and then pricing it according to the actual cost and mark-up by other furniture producers. The designers of IKEA had to acquire and calculate all the costs like raw material, manufacturing, and distribution till the item reached the retail store within the certain target price (ICMR, 2010). Supply Chain Management plays a vital role in decision making process at IKEA. This is the most important responsibility because IKEA has 202 retail outlets all around the world, which cover a total of minimum a million consumers a day, throughout the year (ICMR, 2010).

The company carries 3.5m stock units, and provides 10, 000 different types of products. Almost 10% of them are new every year (All Business, 2005). Supply chain planning is sometimes complex for the company, because the outlets are spread across thirty two countries. As a rule, an IKEA retail store opening is a public event, and the customers have to travel hundreds of kilometres to shop there. Furthermore, the company has 1600 suppliers in numerous regions, and they are divided more or less evenly between Europe and Asia. IKEA consists of 27 central distribution centres in 16 different countries (All Business, 2005).

Internal Factors Analysis

The factors which an organization can control are known to be internal factors, and those an organization cannot control are the external ones (Times, 2010).

The aim of the internal analysis is to identify strategically important strengths and weaknesses on which a firm should ultimately base its strategy. Ideally, this goal can be achieved, first of all, by identifying key internal factors such as distribution channels, cash flows, locations, technology and organizational structure and, secondly, by evaluating these factors. The internal factors analysis is neither linear nor simple. The steps tend to overlap, and the managers in different positions and levels approach the internal analysis in different ways. Therefore, it is essential for the firm to effectively evaluate these factors.

Anything happening within the company or within the grasp of the company falls under the category of internal factors. Strengths and weaknesses are internal factors as they indicate how well the company copes with managing its internal matters and what should be the focus of the companys attention. These factors usually refer to the matters related to the various departments of the organization such as finance, marketing or production.

IKEA’s business strategy is mainly focused on the companys aims related to sustainability and environmental design. IKEA has recently launched a tactical plan regarding sustainability and the company wishes to see it through by 2015 (Times, 2010).

Strengths

Any aspect within an organization which gives it a competitive advantage over other companies is known to be a strength. It could be an excellent ability of the sales team to convince the customers or the infrastructure the company has developed around its premises. The following are some of the strengths which IKEA has:

  • A strong brand name to relate to in the global market (Kumar and Kumar, 2010).
  • Conscious attitude to cost results and lower prices that blends in perfectly with what they call a ‘Democratic Design’ (meaning good quality for lower prices).
  • Responsible approach towards market research which helps the company to be pro-active about entering into new markets (Kumar and Kumar, 2010).
  • IKEA enjoys Economies of scale because of its bulk purchasing.
  • Wherever IKEA goes, it develops an excellent infrastructure around its location which makes this company an immediate favourite for the locals (Times, 2010).
  • One of its major strengths is delivery of products directly from the supplier to IKEA retail outlets. This cuts down the handling costs, lessens the number of road miles and decreases the carbon footprint.
  • The product development and differentiation is considered to be the major strength of the company that gives it a competitive advantage over the others while keeping its costs of operations at a low level. This could be depicted in the following diagram:

The product development and differentiation.

Weaknesses

Problems which any firm may face internally can have a significant impact on its performance. IKEA as a company is aware of that, thats why it takes appropriate measures to eliminate such weaknesses (Times, 2010). The plans for overcoming these problems often serve as the basis for the companys short-term objectives. IKEA seems to be facing the following weaknesses:

  • The size of the organization is a weakness for IKEA. It manufactures products in different countries and each country has its geographic constraints, often resulting in the improper implementation of the legislated working conditions.
  • Although IKEA spends a lot on research and development, it has problems matching up to one of its primary standards – quality products and low prices. Economies of scale help the company in reducing the prices but maintaining a balance between the price and the quality can be a problem.
  • IKEA continuously introduces differentiated products but its business rivals are catching up with the copies as well as with their own products (Times, 2010).
  • Communication barriers are a major concern. IKEA’s management needs to maintain healthy channels of communication within the organization as well as with their consumers.
  • IKEA has limited advertising and promotional strategies.

External Factors Analysis

Factors that are characterized as uncontrollable and often unpredictable by businesses tend to have serious implications for them and can affect the direction of the strategy that they are pursuing and can shape up the organizational structure and values existing within organizations. These factors generally pertain to external environment of businesses, and therefore they can be divided into two categories. The first group of factors includes the opportunities that involve the necessities in formulating strategies. Secondly, there are external threats that provoke complexities involved in creating the company’s strategies.

Opportunities

A company employs its strengths to benefit from the opportunities that occur. IKEA considers that its environmentally concerned business behaviour will have an outcome in superior returns even in a price receptive market. IKEA is working on effectual resolutions for customers in order to help them recycle or reprocess used products (Times, 2010). The opportunities that IKEA takes benefit of through its sustainability outline include:

  • An immense opportunity can be seen in a rising demand for environmentally friendly products (Times, 2010).
  • There is an increasing demand for low priced products. Inclinations in the current financial environment may result in consumers coming down to less expensive stores.
  • It is essential to attract the younger generation, as they will be the key buyers in the upcoming years. IKEA is planning to attract the new generation by its low priced, modern and stylish products. Due to these characteristics, young people are ready to buy and furnish their homes with IKEA products (Kumar and Kumar, 2010).
  • Organizations work on reducing water usage and lowering the usage of carbon footprints. IKEA has set out its plan for cutting energy use by introducing alternate energy sources in its stores and changing its packaging material. Its environmentally friendly transport proposal embraces the aim to reduce business flights by 20% in 2010 and by 60% by the end of 2015 (Times, 2010).
  • IKEA is providing social responsibility for the people. Developing social responsibility, IKEA’s strategy includes support for charities such as the World Wildlife Fund, UNICEF and Save the Children (Times, 2010).
  • To attain the market value, IKEA can follow the basic marketing strategies of penetrating and scheming the competitive industry in order to function globally (Kumar and Kumar, 2010).
  • It is essential for the company to be open with all its suppliers and stakeholders. This includes creating confidence through good communication with customers, co-workers, vital opinion formers and the media. To be sustainable is a fundamental element of IKEA’s image (Times, 2010).

Threats

If a corporation is aware of potential external threats, it can manage to offset them. Through creating innovative ideas, IKEA can employ a particular strength to secure its business against threats in the industry. Threats to IKEA may arise from:

  • The upcoming social trends can be a threat for IKEA business. Most of the consumers are not ready to try on new products, therefore it may result in decelerating first time purchasers in entering the housing market. This is an essential market segment for IKEA items that needs to be considered.
  • The furniture industry has strong market forces that could influence IKEA’s market value. Attracted by the consumer demand and expected returns from household and furnishing markets, many companies have entered into these markets. IKEA requires strengthening of its exclusive qualities to compete within the industry (Times, 2010).
  • The economic factors are also one of the major threats for all the businesses. The downturn of economy has slowed down consumer expenditure, and disposable income has been reduced.
  • Nevertheless, IKEA is concentrating on these threats and trying to overcome them. It is handling weaknesses and threats to generate a positive effect. IKEA is developing the system of online assistance to direct customers to a more sustainable life. On its website, it provides the customers with information and ideas on how to lessen their influence upon the environment. This will also help the business to be more cost effective. The managers and co-workers are trained on sustainability, particularly on what IKEA is doing and how they can take liability to become responsible for themselves (Times, 2010). IKEA is huge enough to benefit from the economies of scale. The impact of such economies of scale can be seen in lower average costs of operations. The company has a team of specialized individuals who have integrated sophisticated technologies, which have helped the company to reduce costs throughout its operations. Because of its ability to derive benefits from high levels of economies of scale and lower costs of doing business, the company is able to offer products that are highly price competitive for consumers. From this, it could be suggested that due to its unique position in the market, the company is able to establish high levels of barriers for new market entrants.
  • Since KEA offers products at a price level that is reasonable and affordable for individuals, it creates a greater demand for its products in times of financial difficulties prevailing in their respective markets. It is imperative to keep prices as low as feasible when the retail sector is dejected. The company should guarantee that it is determined to have the lowest prices in the market in the upcoming years. In order to bring awareness among the consumers, it is essential to communicate with the customers through different channels of media and promotional strategies (Times, 2010).

Consumer behaviours influencing IKEA’s marketing strategies

The IKEA world rotates around fashionable design, low prices, madcap promotions, and a passion that few organizations in or out of this business can boast of. Possibly more than any other corporation in the world, IKEA has turned out to be a keeper of people’s standards of living, if not their lives. At a point when customers face so many alternatives for everything they buy, IKEA offers a one-stop shelter for assurance and self-reliance. It is a reliance safe zone that people can enter and instantly become a member of a like-minded, cost, style and environmentally-sensitive global tribe (Business Week, 2005).

The IKEA company has plenty of opportunities to run the business successfully. It accounts for 5% to 10% of the furniture market in each country where it manages and sells its products. More significant, says CEO Anders Dahlvig, is that “Awareness of our brand is much bigger than the size of our company. That is because IKEA is far more than a furniture merchant. It sells a lifestyle that customers around the world embrace as a signal that they’ve arrived, that they have good taste and recognize value” (Business Week, 2005). The founder of IKEA, Ingvar Kamprad, is known as one of the most successful entrepreneurs who has led his business through creation of new designs and products to shaping up the consumer trends and tastes.

The company invests a significant amount of costs in opening its new stores that is on average $66 million to ensure that the location of stores and products offered are feasible for long term returns. CEO Dahlvig is eagerly enhancing IKEA’s profile in three of its fastest-growing markets: the U.S., Russia, India and China. In the U.S., he believes the ground is broad open, “We have 25 stores in a market the size of Europe, where we have more than 160 stores” (Business Week, 2005).

IKEA is offering exclusive catalogues to attract and fascinate the consumers. Pieces address the intricacies of the customer traditions. The IKEA catalogues are about uniqueness and personal style. They are distributed worldwide to 175 million people. The IKEA catalogues offer a combination of fine arts and marketable production (Christopher, 2008).

IKEA Localisation of Global Market

The company has recognised that the major proportion of its market constitutes the customers belonging to the middle class who have common buying behaviour and preferences. The customer expenditure patterns are also similar throughout all countries. In spite of these similarities, IKEA comprehends that to strengthen its positions in the global market, it is obligatory to localise. For example in China, in the year 2005, IKEA produced 250,000 plastic placemats to commemorate the year of roosters (ICMR India, 2010).

IKEA’s promotional campaigns are based on exceptional marketing situations and cultural susceptibilities of each country, which differ radically across markets. For instance, European billboards and commercials, particularly in the UK, were more clear-cut than those in North America, which were usually more humorous. IKEA stores have been available in some countries such as Canada, Sweden, Australia and Germany for more than twenty five years whereas in countries such as the United States, Russia, Britain, China and Italy, the company has operated for only slightly more than a decade (ICMR India, 2010). During all these years, IKEA has worked with numerous advertising agencies to carry out some of the most inspired and exceptional television advertisements across the globe

Conclusion

IKEA is a renowned international brand with hundreds of stores all around the world. Through this research, it is suggested that the company should undertake further evaluation of its markets as competitive forces are aligning to impose new challenges for the company. It is essential for the company to make new strategies for keeping its strong financial position. This will reveal the essential opportunities it can make use of and the threats that should be dealt with to retain the market share. IKEA acts relying on its strengths and cutting down its weaknesses. With this approach the company has been able to maintain a strong identity in the market, and over the years it has continued to promote effective business development strategies.

IKEA’s enthusiasm includes design, low prices, cost-effective use of resources, and accountability for people and the surroundings. The company’s products, progression and structure reveal its environmental position. For instance, smart exploit of packaging and design means that more goods can be stored into a crate and that reduces the number of delivery journeys. This basically lessens IKEA’s carbon footprint.

The company also offers support and assistance in furnishing homes and offices as well as provides some valuable and exceptional suggestions like which furniture can fit your home in accordance with the space accessibility or which colour of wallpaper will go with that furniture. You can obtain the entire home and office associated information from the professionals at IKEA. The company also offers delivery services for its customers and ensures that the product is delivered to the customer and accepted with the highest level of satisfaction. In addition to this, there are special offers which can be availed by the customers to make their shopping experience more enjoyable. The IKEAs wide variety of products has enabled the consumers to select and place the finest and affordable products in their homes and offices. Presently, the organization is renowned for its product development, resourcefulness, ability to respond and offer great varieties of products across the continents.

Recommendations

IKEA should intend to go further in building prosperity and reputation. In order to create a renowned trade mark in Ireland, IKEA’s main objective should be to become a significant example in raising a sustainable business. This will form an improved everyday life for its consumers. IKEA can retain its market value in Ireland by planning to counteract the threats especially using the innovative ideas, and focusing upon the company’s strengths. IKEA’s pricing approach targets customers with restricted financial resources; it should also create products for the high class consumers by providing high-quality designs and extraordinary styles. IKEA has also discovered a new business reality where being sustainable and accountable is not just the best for consumers and the planet, but it is also highly beneficial for the business itself. Therefore, the company should never ignore this fact and should continue to provide functional and innovative styles and products to the people to attain a high market share.

List of References

All Business, 2005. IKEA brings picture to life. Web.

Artisan, 2004. IKEA Furnishing the world. Web.

Business Week, 2005. How the Swedish Retailer became a global cult brand. Web.

Christopher, Y.A., 2008. IKEA idea challenges consumer behavior. The Columbus Dispatch. p.1.

ICMR India, 2010. IKEA’s Global Marketing Strategy. Web.

ICMR, 2010. IKEA’s Cost Efficient Supply Chain. Web.

IKEA, 2003. The Values that characterise IKEA. Web.

Leggett, K., 2009. Service = Brand, Part 2. Web.

Kumar, S. & Kumar, S. 2010. IKEA-Case Sudy. Web.

Miller, M. P. 2010. IKEA with Chinese Characteristics. The China Business Review. p.1.

Times, 2010. IKEA SWOT analysis and sustainable business planning. Web.