Power of Print. Why catalogue is IKEA’s #1 Marketing Tool?

Written by Artur Kornienko

If you have an idea, he will put that in words and spread it.

January 27, 2017

The IKEA catalogue is the main marketing tool of the Swedish retailer. Around 70% of the annual marketing budget is spent on the catalogue alone. It is produced in 38 different editions, 17 languages for 28 countries. In Europe the catalogue reaches around 200 million people every year. These are quite impressive figures. The question is, how did it become such a marketing success? Let’s investigate.

IKEA – The Global Marketing Pros

IKEA marketing strategy makes the brand one of the most recognizable in the world. Yes, the furniture is nice and relatively cheap. But anyone who’s ever shopped there has never left without an IKEA catalogue. What makes the brand so recognizable is its knack for multicultural global marketing. IKEA marketing specialists are experts in devising a universal message which corresponds across cultures. The IKEA.com international homepage is a perfect example of an easy to use multilingual website.

Properly translated  branding content

By branding content we mean all content that talks about (well, you guessed it) the brand. It refers to the company’s mission, vision, About us page etc. IKEA takes quite simple and straightforward language, focused on one key value (“a company with a passion for life at home”), one key achievement (315 stores in 27 countries) and a link to country-relevant press releases make the content easy to translate. On the top of that, gender and ethnically-neutral images help to deliver the message. When it comes to international SEO, it is important that content speaks neutral language without obscuring the message with regional connotations and metaphors.

Source: Ikea.com (English and Polish site).

Tools Which Assemble IKEA’s International Strategy

What are the main marketing tools IKEA uses? First, catalogue marketing. But not just a print catalogue, also the IKEA online catalogue. Even non-marketing materials raise brand awareness. For instance, the DIY IKEA manuals are a big part of the brand’s image.

Manuals That Can Be Understood in Any Language

Translating assembly instructions into 17 languages is quite a lot of work. Not to mention that you need to occasionally update and edit all of the translations. IKEA took a clever approach. It uses semiotics, i.e. internationally-comprehensible images for their technical manuals. Not only does it make the entire manual easier to comprehend in any country, but it also saves millions of dollars on an extensive technical glossary and translation.

IKEA Source: Ikea.com

Latest Tech to The Rescue

Even if you are selling something as conventional as furniture, you need to embrace technology. If you want to break new ground you need to find unconventional ways how to use tech advancements to do digital marketing. IKEA uses them in different areas. E.g. as of 2014, 75% of product images (i.e. white background images) and 35% of non-product images across all IKEA communications are fully computer-generated. But the Swedish retailer takes it further.

To modernize its catalogue marketing strategy IKEA developed new applications for android and Apple smartphones. The IKEA mobile catalogue app gives users access to extended catalogue content. It provides more inspiration and home furnishing know-how. To enhance user experience developers created the IKEA augmented reality catalogue feature “IKEA Place”. It allows users to virtually place and view IKEA’s furniture in their own homes; 360º views that enable users to look all the way around a whole room. Looks like the future is here.

This feature isn’t there for the sake of being trendy. It allows you to ditch the pencil and ruler and take measurements in a more efficient way.

It’s Not a Catalog, It’s a Book-book …

In our age of smartphones and other gadgets it can be quite challenging to promote a catalog online made of…paper. IKEA decided to make a video that presents the 2015 catalog in a manner Apple promotes its products. With phrases like: “Eternal battery life” and “It’s not a digital book or e-book. It’s a bookbook” the video was destined for an online marketing success. The beauty of the ad is in its simplicity. It can be easily translated to any number of languages without worrying that the message won’t be understood due to cultural differences. Content marketing by using the basic seo tools at its finest.

 Here Is What Quora Readers Think

Bonus. What’s The Meaning Behind Bråviken?

If you ever thumbed through IKEA’s catalog, you probably wondered what all these funky sounding names like bråviken or stödja mean? Turns out that there is a special naming scheme in place that is based on the product type. E.g. Sofas, coffee tables are named after places in Sweden (Malmö); beds after places in Norway (Malm). So next time you are visiting IKEA store, you won’t just buy a new piece of furniture but also learn something new. There is even a game that asks you to guess if this is a made up word or a real one from IKEA catalog. Give it a try!

Respecting tradition and a sense of community is a big part of IKEA’s mission and vision. The IKEA values based assessment when hiring new workforce is all about embracing core brand values. This is the icing on the cake. In the end, a polished brand image will have little effect if the employees don’t represent it on the outside.

Expanding your brand overseas is no easy task for sure. In these matters, it is always good to work with people who know how to approach international market. Here at GFluence we help various businesses with executing their international SEO strategy to its fullest potential. Check full spectrum of services that we can provide for you.

Featured image source: www.malaysiafreesamplegiveaway.com

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