You know how you see families stroll throughout IKEA, shifting through furniture pieces to add to their homes?
“No, honey, that shelf cannot fit in the corner of the family room, it’s too wide.”
“Oh that lamp would look lovely next to my asparagus ferns.”
“Billy, stop jumping on that couch, now!”
Then the family migrates to the downstairs restaurant to munch on some Swedish meatballs to reenergize for another round of couch-snooping and some more bickering.
However, the IKEA stores in China are taking the shopping experience one step further by allowing customers to make themselves right at home in the display rooms. This includes coming in early in the morning and lounging on the couches until evening closing time, parents bringing in their children just to play with the toys, and they are also welcomed to settle into the beds for a nap. Some people even bring a pair of jammies to change into!
Sounds pretty crazy that a furniture store would allow people to utilize and enjoy the furniture before even buying it, but IKEA China’s marketing director, Camilla Hammer, claims that allowing customers to test-drive these products and enjoy the store’s enmities, is what will encourage them to come back later to purchase these products. There is prove in the pudding. In August 2013, IKEA China sales increased by 17% and reached $1 billion at the end year.
Guess what else they offer for their customers … a chance to have a wedding right in the middle of the store. That’s right. Blushing brides can walk down the aisle with cushioned footstools on their left and base corner cabinet frames on their right.
The IKEA store in the city of Nanjing held a wedding with three couples which was set up as a PR event, and since then, couples have been calling in to reserve a time and day to have their own special day hosted in the store. What allows this to occur is the difference between cultures in the West and in the East. In America, furniture shopping is mostly about finding what you want in the quickest and most efficient way and discussing with your spouse what exact design and functionality you each what.
However, in China, most couples see furniture browsing as a romantic experience. Hammar even notes that the first time a couple discusses the idea of marriage is in the middle of the showroom. So IKEA just tapped into the emotional frenzy from the shoppers and the idea of Furniture Store Marriage was born. Swedish meatball entrees at the reception included!