In Greek mythology, Theseus entered the labyrinth of the Minotaur with a ball of string, which he used to find his way out after defeating the bull-headed behemoth.
Fortunately (or unfortunately, if you know how the tale pans out) for him that maze wasn’t built by the experts at IKEA, or he would STILL be there.
Everyone who’s been into an IKEA store will know what I’m talking about. While far from the gloomy, haunted labyrinth of yore, the purpose of the maze-like, IKEA layout is the same; in the words of Alan Penn, the director of the Virtual Reality Centre for the Built Environment at University College London, “Part of IKEA’s lengthy layout was to baffle the shoppers by their surroundings, so if they saw something they liked, they had to pick it up straightaway due to the fact it would be too hard to retrace your steps and find it later.”
He said this made the Swedish firm supremely successful in getting shoppers to make unplanned purchases, or impulse buys. So successful, in fact, that 60% of purchases from IKEA have been calculated to be from such buying habits. As a customer is lead through “the long natural way”, a phrase associated with IKEA’s unique one-way tour-like experience, it’s easy to be swayed from your original intention and end up with items you didn’t think you needed before you entered the store.
More importantly, as you’re taken through room after room after room of well-designed, brightly-lit, beautifully-arranged settings, you may find yourself inspired to create a similar look with, what else? IKEA products.
Because, really, browsing in an IKEA store, with showcases covering almost every style and theme imaginable, gives you the feeling of walking through and sampling one of IKEA’s catalogues, but in physical form.
After all, what better way is there to experience your dream home than to live in it for a few minutes? To see the perfect kitchen in the flesh (so to speak) before deciding that’s exactly what you want? To wander around your future living room and choose improvements from the endless choices lying nearby to truly bring your vision to life?
This distinct method of showcasing and execution gives customers a sense of choice like never before. So is it any wonder that IKEA is the world’s largest furniture retailer, with sales of over USD23 billion (approx. RM70 billion) in 2010?
A unique brand experience, therefore, is something your customers should want to choose to get lost in, and in doing so, discover what they are truly looking for.