Creating emotion from flat-pack furniture

the-dining-club-by-ikea-outside-sketchTake up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
– Swami Vivekananda

When we assist a client in building a ‘fitter’ retail ecosystem, we continue to focus a lot of our attention on the physical expressions of a brand. While all components of an ecosystem, contribute to the overall success (or ‘fitness’) of a retail business, and we talk about the message a brand ‘portrays’ and customer ‘receives’, ultimately we are all still humans seeking to engage in a human-to-human dialogue. Therefore we must never forget the great emotional and loyal attachments gained through interactions with a brand on a physical level.

Increasingly, we see these physical expressions of brands, move away from the traditional formula of a standard pop-up or special one-off store with the goal of selling products. Many great ‘fit’ physical expressions instead choose to sell brand ethos, values or purpose, acknowledging the value and the increasing influence of consumer emotion on purchase behaviour.

We see many great brands choose to create a physical environment that demonstrates the solution their product or service offered, can solve for the customer.

Furniture retailer Ikea has an incredibly unique point-of-difference, which offers the retailer significant competitive advantage over other industry players.

Ikea’s group president Anders Dahlyig once spoke of the company’s goal to ‘…be different, not just better…’ and Ikea has continued to play on this concept in all areas from the shopping experience, store design and layout, product quality; almost being predictive in their solution-solving products and attracting the best in retailing talent to work in its stores.

One major difference that Ikea continues to lead and innovate in is the desire to provide a ‘fun’, theatrical shopping experience, playing on the power of human emotion.

Taking this focus of building on human-emotion around their products, plus their core brand ethos of ‘do-it-yourself’, Ikea have recently built their latest physical expression of their brand in the form of a pop-up restaurant called ‘The Dining Club’ in Shoreditch, East London.

dining-club-promo-f860c4fd5eGuests of ‘The Dining Club’ work alongside chefs to prepare simple Scandinavian-themed dishes, whilst acting restaurant owner for the evening, by hosting their friends and family in a dining space curated with Ikea products. While there may still be the kitchen showrooms and a homewares shop as an addition to the space, the focus is on the food and the experience and human-emotion an Ikea environment creates. Visitors are allowed to bring up to 20 guests along to help prepare and taste the food, with a head chef on hand to offer advice or guidance.

This concept cleverly creates emotion around what may be seen as some fairly emotionless products (i.e. flat pack furniture), allows customers to try before they buy, and brings social influence in to the mix by involving friends and family into the purchase decision. The Dining Club is a ‘fit’ example of the power of the theatre of great retail, but uniquely places the customers as their lead actors, allowing them to influence the narrative.

According to our London partners, rumours have been heard in London that this could be the beginnings of Ikea launching its own restaurant chain, however only time will tell! The Dining Club will certainly offer plenty of insights into the success of this offering, and will no doubt carve the future for the brand.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group and can be contacted on (02) 9460 2882 or [email protected]Vikki Weston, co-author of this column, is part of Retail Doctor Group’s Retail Insights team and can be contacted via email at [email protected] .

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