In a surplus world, filled with similar goods and services, sold in similar stores which reside in similar looking strip malls or warehouses, sold at similar prices by staff who swap companies every few years, we need to do more than just offer quality, fairly priced, convenient goods backed up by “customer service”. Its becoming harder and harder to obtain and maintain a competitive advantage.
One of the ways to do so is to create an experience around your product. There are many ways to do this, and the companies that use their creativity to do so are reaping huge rewards. One such company is IKEA, the ubiquitous furniture store. Whilst there products may fit perfectly into the “little boxes on a hillside” standardisation approach to modern life, some of their sales techniques are revolutionary. In particular, their understanding of the male shopper has helped raise them to one of the leading furniture retailers in the world. Here are a few ideas from the legend that is IKEA:
- A few decades ago in the 1950s, a food company came up with the idea of creating a completely simple cake. Just put all the ingredients in a box in powder format, add water, bak – simple. But, women didn’t like it because they didn’t feel they were doing enough work. So, the company changed the recipe and required that a single egg be added along with the water. Sales leapt up. They made women feel like women. IKEA is doing that for men, by ensuring that their furniture is simple, but that “some assembly is required”.
- IKEA allows groups of men to book out their stores after hours for bachelor parties. A great evening of eating and boozing, and the bridegroom spends some of the evening assembling some furniture for his new house. This is then delivered as part of the package. It all goes down in an IKEA store, and creates an unforgettable memory in the minds of a crowd of guys. Ingenious.
- One of their internal slogans: We want to make men feel like men again.