Research on IKEA’s advertising style

1. The brand DNA, identity and values

IKEA is a trademark that represents the leading home furnishing brand in the world with more than 330 stores in 40 countries. By using simple cost-cutting solutions that don‘t affect the quality of the products, they want to make furniture of good function and design affordable for everyone [1]. The letters of the brand‘s name stand for the initials of Ingvar Kamprad, who founded IKEA in 1943, the first letter of Elmtaryd, the farm where he grew up, and the first letter of Agunnaryd, his hometown [2].

Besides producing affordable furniture for everyone, IKEA started the IKEA Social Initiative in 2005, which manages the company‘s social involvements like their partnership with UNICEF and Save the Children [3]. Furthermore, they adopted an Environmental Action Plan in 1992, which includes a series of environmental measures to improve their environmental performance and sustainability [4].

2. The brand’s advertising

2.1. Message goal

IKEA‘s message goal is to show their target group that comfort and functional design doesn‘t have to be expensive and everyone can afford a nice interior. With their advertisement they try to convince their audience that they can have a beautiful home, while addressing mostly their emotions. They want to both give their customers knowledge about their products, but they also make indirect calls for action to go to IKEA, buy nice furniture and other interior and make their own home nice and comfortable (like for example the German slogan „Wohnst du schon oder lebst du noch?“).

2.2. Strategy

To communicate their aim of giving everyone an affordable but nice and functional home, they show joyful people of all professions and generations, singles, young couples and families living in nice and comfortable homes. It is a soft sell strategy that tries to address the customer‘s emotions by communicating a good mood and showing how nice life can be with IKEA products.

2.3. Approach

IKEA‘s advertisement approach consists mostly of humor and the demonstration of scenes of real life, but also covers demonstration of their products, how they work and some kind of problem solving for young people who want to have a nice home. Within this approach, IKEA moved in the last years a bit from a young and fresh kind of communication to a more family-focused approach, which is also represented by the introduction of the „family card“ in 2007 and slogans like „Home is the Most Important Place in the World“ [5].

2.4. Selling Premises

IKEA has three main selling premises:

  • Benefit: by buying furniture and other interior at IKEA, most people can afford and get a nice and comfortable home without much effort. By this they indirectly separate themselves from expensive furniture, that you have to choose carefully and then wait for it‘s delivery.
  • Promise: IKEA promises their customers to get well designed furniture of good quality and function for low prices.
  • Reason Why: The reason why customers should trust IKEA and buy their interior there simply is that it is cheap while the quality and the design is good.

2.5. Visual Rhetoric

IKEA uses both the main principles of rhetoric, logos, ethos and pathos, but also rhetoric forms that deliver messages in a special way. In their advertisement, IKEA focuses mostly on the pathos, emotions, to address the customer‘s feelings, associations and their image of the brand. This is done by showing happy people and joyful everyday life scenes in comfortable homes, and by using humor. These emotional aspects are combined with logos, rational arguments, like showing the products and demonstrating how nice, simple and functional they are, and by highlighting the low prices and high quality. Ethos, which stands for the credibility of the author, is used by making the customer associate terms like simplicity and affordable, but also products like the well known „Billy“-shelf with the brands name and by engaging in environmental and social issues.

Besides that, IKEA advertisements use visual rhetoric elements to give their messages a deeper meaning and a humorous style. Examples for rhetoric forms used in IKEA ads are:

  • Metaphors
  • Rhymes, especially in the tag lines
  • Contrast, for example before vs. after or with vs. without IKEA
  • Exaggeration, especially concerning the people in the scenes: they are usually super happy, feel good and don‘t worry about anything as soon as they have IKEA furniture
  • Personification, for example when furniture or other objects come to live
  • Comparison, usually connected to contrasts like with vs. without IKEA

3. How IKEA‘s identity and advertising connect

IKEA‘s identity is connected very closely to their advertising strategy. All in all, they want to show their customers that they want to give them affordable homes by offering nice, functionable and simple interior for low prices without letting the product‘s quality suffer. As it is mostly young people, couples and families in middle-class that don‘t have enough money to spend on more expensive and individual high quality products, but still need good furniture to arrange their homes, it is mostly them they address by their wording, visuals and topics. They focus on humor and joy, to address the customer‘s emotions and make them associate IKEA with happiness, comfort and family. Through creativity and humor they come up with new ideas for both products and advertisement every now and then, which also adds to the brand‘s image of playfulness and innovation.



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