IKEA is a household name these days, and while most of us are familiar with their wacky Swedish names and the trendy furniture at reasonable prices, there’s a lot you probably never knew about it. Here’s 13 facts about the company that made the allen wrench an indispensable tool for homeowners.
1. IKEA is an acronym.
Ikea’s founder’s name is Ingvar Kamprad (“I.K.”). The “E” is for Eltaryd, the farm he grew up on, and the “A” is for Agunnaryd, which was his hometown.
2. The product names are a result of founder Ingvar Kamprad’s dyslexia.
Due to his dyslexia, using alphanumeric codes for products the way most places do became too confusing for him. Swedish names helped make differentiation simpler and now we all have the pleasure of being able to order a desk called the “Fartfull” (which means “speedy” in Swedish).
3. They have company “anthropologists” who visit customer homes to see how they interact with their furniture.
It’s how they found out citizens of Shenzhen, China prefer sitting on the floor with couches acting as a backrest.
4. Putting your furniture together yourself makes you value it more.
A Harvard Business School study found that spending effort assembling a purchase made it seem more valuable. The real reason for IKEA’s assembly model is for easier shipping and lowered labor costs, but I’m sure they don’t mind that added boost.
5. They built a rock wall/apartment hybrid.
It was part of their celebrations for opening their 30th store in France.
6. The manuals use drawings, not words.
Drawings are more universally understood and save printing costs on written instructions which take more space and need to be translated.
7. A soap opera was shot in IKEA.
“IKEA Heights” was an episodic soap opera where actors wore hidden microphones and captured customer reactions to their super dramatic plots, shot entirely on location at an IKEA in Burbank, California in 2009. The actors had not gotten permission from IKEA, but the company was fairly cool about it (though, understandably, they did shut them down).
8. IKEA Malaysia once had a contest for people who looked like their furniture.
It was a fun way to drum up some business and engage people via social media. Winners got gift cards. Come on IKEA U.S.A. marketing team, get with the program.
9. In China, IKEA is often used as a quick rest stop
This would seem bizarre in America, but in China it’s common practice for tired shoppers to head to an IKEA for a little nap on a couch or even curl up in one of the beds. IKEA is nice enough not to bother them unless they’re causing a disturbance.
10. IKEA is used in couple’s therapy.
Shopping and assembling IKEA furniture can take its toll on a relationship. It’s so notorious that comedian Amy Poehler once humorously theorized that IKEA might be the Swedish word for “argument.” Some psychologists now send couples to complete an IKEA project together and then discuss the process and results in their counseling session to pinpoint communication problems.
11. IKEA was not an overnight success in America.
The first IKEA in the U.S. opened in Philadelphia in 1985, but customers had trouble pronouncing the names of just about everything. Many of the size for things were also too small for American consumers, leading to flower vases being used as drinking glasses since the smaller, European tumblers couldn’t account for America’s love of tall, icy beverages.
12. The store’s layout is purposefully confusing.
By utilizing a maze-like floor plan, consumers are led to snap up impulse buy items like shades and pillows because they aren’t sure if they’ll find them again later on. There are some shortcuts through the store in order to comply with fire safety regulations, but then you’d be missing out on some great deals.
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