From its start, IKEA has understood the power of democratic design. The Swedish brand has set itself apart by offering a wide variety of affordable furniture, and by making impressive strides in sustainability. With IKEA’s offerings, people around the world (often those living in smaller, compact homes) can afford to design their spaces more functionally, responsibly, and creatively.
According to IKEA, it’s not just about producing furniture; it is about making people’s lives better. This goal drives IKEA’s destination retail experience—though its user-friendly e-commerce platform is also noteworthy. IKEA is dedicated to understanding its customers through extensive market research. By learning how people live their lives at home, IKEA meets people’s needs, anticipates trends, and learns how to best market to its core constituency. The IKEA catalog—with some 200 million copies printed in more than 30 languages—continues to be a vehicle for widespread visibility.
The company’s marketing initiatives manifest in unexpected places—from designing and building an apartment in a train station to installing a bathroom on a busy street. IKEA also engages consumers through the IKEA Catalogue app, which uses augmented reality to let customers view 3-D renderings of IKEA furniture in their own homes. These unique, experiential initiatives demonstrate how much one can do with a small space. IKEA also proves itself sophisticated on the social media stage—its U.S. Instagram account reaches some 424,000 followers.
IKEA’s mission of making people’s lives better extends to the development of more processes—its goal is to become 100 percent energy and resource independent by 2020. In June of 2015, the company announced its allocation of EUR €1 billion toward renewable energy and climate action. In July, it purchased an 83,000-acre forest in Romania in order to sustainably control wood resources and keep costs low. IKEA also installed 150,000 solar panels and committed to 87 new wind turbines during 2014, producing a total of 1,810 GWh of renewable energy—27 percent more than in 2013.
IKEA is growing its brand by design, developing deep insights into the way the world lives and an eye toward the environment we all inhabit.