GLOBAL: IKEA has become a symbol of Swedish utility following the vision of its founder, Ingvar Kamprad, who passed away last week. One of the brand’s recent press ads made headlines, but its strategy shows how the brand has become part of its customers’ lives through moments big and small.

In 2016, IKEA began positioning its brand around the concept of Where Life Happens. The most recent iteration, a print ad, contained a pregnancy test. WARC spoke to Jerker Winther, Head of Planning & Strategy at Åkestam.Holst about the idea’s heritage and development. (For more read WARC’s exclusive here.)

“Getting a pregnancy test that’s positive is a part of life, so IKEA is relevant in that situation. IKEA is for every lifestage and is always finding new ways to become relevant or identify different target groups in Sweden”, Winther said.

In part, this position has to do with the deep connection that IKEA has with the post-war migration to cities. People had spent most of their money on their apartments, leaving very little money left over. Swedes were, according to Winther, very thankful for cheap, well-designed furniture.

In recent years, however, competition had begun to encroach from specialists covering IKEA’s areas of expertise, beating the brand’s low-price offer by creating value. “We needed to understand why people were buying furniture from other places and what was driving the market. We started to talk about what it would be like to drive more of a price premium for people who wanted to spend a little bit more on their IKEA furniture.”

The brand found that it had to speak to the modern family. “In Sweden, there are a lot of different family situations, with step brothers and sisters, gay marriage and adoption and that is a huge market for IKEA”, Winther added.

This concept first saw light as an ad that depicted a divorced father replicating his son’s old room in the family house thanks to IKEA furniture.

In late October 2017, Åkestam.Holst then experimented with different formats, including pre-roll where the main characters break down the fourth wall. More than a third of viewers (39%) were compelled to watch the ads through to the end.

Winther believed it reflects the defiance in human nature. “It’s how people behave. If you say to someone not to touch a newly painted wall, they want to touch it.”

But it respects a core of advertising theory all the same“Every communication we do is about reminding people about our products. The pee ad, for instance, is about reminding people that we have products for babies … We’re constantly reminding people that IKEA is the store for every lifestage.”

Sourced from WARC