The selected organization is IKEA, which is a multinational furniture-making company that has its headquarters in Sweden. Currently, the company has stores in approximately 50 countries. IKEA has been in operation for 76 years and is currently considered the world’s largest furniture producer and seller. Interestingly, unlike many multinational companies today, IKEA is still largely a family business. There are several reasons that have ensured the IKEA brand remains one of the best in the sector. Many of these reasons can be associated with marketing, advertising, and brand portfolio management. The company has invested hugely in its customer-consumer journey to ensure that they establish a sense of loyalty among its target audience. Additionally, issues such as cost control and administration details have always been considered in order to ensure the company delivers on its brand promise.
It is important to note that the company’s vision is to create a better everyday life for everybody. The company has enhanced its brand by aligning all its processes towards the achievement of that simple goal. It is this vision that has determined the company’s pricing matrix among other elements. This essay will look at how IKEA has applied the 7 P’s of marketing to enhance its brand. The 7 elements of the marketing mix are product, price, place, promotion, people, processes, and physical evidence. This essay will also analyze how these 7 elements have contributed to the successful achievement of consumer satisfaction, the positioning of the brand in the market, increased sales, and helped the company keep ahead of its competitors over the years. Finally, recommendations will be given on how IKEA can improvise each of the 7 marketing mix elements to achieve its business objectives.
7 Ps of Marketing Mix
There are two main things to consider when discussing how IKEA has implemented the product mix in its business. The first is that the company has an annual product reveal that introduces as many as 2500 new products into the market. The product development process is usually determined by extensive market research to ensure that the developed furniture is needed by their core target market. There are five things that also determine the different designs that the company uses. These five elements are function, low price, form, sustainability, and quality. All their products have to conform to these requirements before they are launched into the market. One element that sets IKEA products apart from the rest is that they are self-assembled. This means that clients have to assemble the products themselves. They get detailed instructions on how to do this. This aspect of the product ensures that the consumers feel a sense of “building” their chosen products themselves. It is arguable that this enhances the customer-consumer journey.
The main objective of pricing in the marketing mix is to understand and capture customer value. IKEA has based its pricing strategy upon four distinct styles. The styles are Scandinavian, modern, country, and young swede. The Scandinavian price is the highest as products in this category are made of sleek wood. The modern category is minimalist while the country category is neo-traditional. Lastly, the young swede is the most affordable, and products in this category target people who will pay very little for furniture. It is critical to note that the company has used this pricing concept in all its country offices albeit customizing the terms to fit the locals. As stated previously, IKEA has focused on different ways it can offer the target audience the lowest price compared to its competitors. This has been achieved through lowering administration and operational costs. For example, a majority of the company offices are in the outskirts of the cities so that the company can save on rent.
As mentioned, IKEA has over 50 country offices. One of the key things the company has focused on is the location of their offices within those countries. In many areas, the company has large warehouses and showrooms on the outskirts of the towns. This is intentional to help save on operational costs. In the recent past, the company has also opened smaller showrooms within major towns, for instance, Japan. This is due to the fact that the markets showed an increase in people seeking to visit the company’s showrooms but could not due to distance. Whereas this has increased the operational costs of the company in those countries, it has also allowed the organization to tap into new markets as people can easily walk in and out of their showrooms. The company’s headquarters remain in Sweden.
According to the principles of marketing, promotion is critical as it allows a brand to engage with its consumers. IKEA has invested heavily in its promotion. For example, they spend a significant percentage of their annual budget on both traditional and digital advertising. Printing catalogs are arguably their most resource-draining promotion material. It is also important to note that the company uses sales campaigns to increase sales at different times of the year. The design of the showrooms can also be considered as a promotion. This is due to the fact that the showrooms are designed as mini-houses so that clients can see how each IKEA furniture complements the other. This then ensures that the clients buy KEA products only for their homes. Recently, the company invested in a game application where the user designs their dream home with IKEA products. The application gives the user the real price of the items they are buying, ensuring that the user can design their virtual dream home within their budget.
There are five main items that guide people’s interaction within IKEA. The company prides itself on having knowledgeable and friendly staff. The staff is approachable at all times during office hours and their website has user support at all times. In addition, the company has technical experts on standby ready to help. These are mainly for people who are having difficulty assembling their products or have technical questions. To further make the customer-consumer journey enjoyable, the company has a reliable design team that helps people choose the right designs based on their budget, preference, and general look in their houses. Additionally, the company has invested in a personal selling team that has been trained to focus on the personalization of the services offered. Lastly, IKEA believes in socialization for both the employees and the clients. This ensures that both staff and consumers have an enjoyable time when interacting with the brand.
The two processes one has to consider are the manufacturing process and the consumer purchase process. For the manufacturing process, the company has its own in-house designers who work on the agreed products. To ensure that the product development cycle is not in-ward looking, IKEA also consults with select designers. As mentioned earlier, the company values extensive market research. The results of the market research shape the designs they launch significantly. The company also owns several forestry sawmills to make their self-production more reliable and also cut costs.
In regards to the consumer purchase process, a client will visit an IKEA store and select the design they prefer. The client will order the item and then collect a new version of it that is packed and ready for transportation. The client can also go through the same process online. IKEA offers paid delivery of products in the event that the client is unable to pick the item up him or herself.
IKEA has invested in very friendly stores in order to make their customer-consumer journey more enjoyable as it removes some of the pain points that their clients would normally experience when shopping for furniture. For example, as stated previously, the company has an in-house design team that helps clients make the right choices of items they would like to add to their households. Additionally, the company has bright and welcoming themes in all its stores. This was achieved through the manipulation of both design and colors that are used in the stores. All IKEA stores offer free parking and Wi-Fi. It is critical to mention that all the IKEA stores have a child play area that is supervised by their staff. This makes it easier for parents to shop with their children as the children can play safely as they do their shopping. Additionally, in select stores, the company has cafes where clients can also sit and enjoy traditional Swedish delicacies.
Marketing Mix Versus Consumer Satisfaction, Positioning, Competition and Sales
One way in which the marketing mix elements have contributed to the achievement of consumer satisfaction is by enhancing the customer-consumer journey. This has been done by eliminating some pain points that are experienced during this journey. For instance, as mentioned previously, the stores are designed with children’s play areas to allow parents to shop freely as their children play safely within the store. Also, the company has enhanced consumer satisfaction by encouraging price control of all their products but still ensuring quality production. Interestingly, consumer satisfaction is also enhanced due to the friendly and knowledgeable staff in the stores. The staff is trained to listen to the needs of the clients in order to offer them personalized services. Consumer satisfaction is key in ensuring client loyalty and this ensured that IKEA became the number one furniture in different countries in the world.
As mentioned, IKEA is identified as the number one retail furniture store in the world. This position has been assured over the years due to the quality of product and pricing and the shopping experience. The previously discussed pricing strategy shows that the product’s pricing is mainly affected by the style and type of material that has been used. The shopping experience also makes the clients feel special and cared for, in turn, nurturing loyalty to the brand. IKEA has also partnered with various businesses, in particular, the Swedish Restaurant, which also has branches in several IKEA stores. The partnership works to advertise IKEA’s products to the restaurant’s clients, who might not have been captured in the company’s stakeholder’s map. The company’s positioning is also heavily affected by their competitors and what their competitors are doing to also capture a larger share of the market.
Some of IKEA’s biggest competitors are Walmart, Amazon, and Target. However, the company has employed several strategies to ensure it stay ahead of their competitors. One element that gives IKEA a competitive advantage over its competitors is its use of physical evidence in the marketing mix. Their stores, and their mini-houses, have proven critical in attracting a larger percentage of their target market to the brand. Additionally, the company’s use of the product element of the marketing mix offers it some competitive advantage. Unlike the mentioned competitors, IKEA makes its own furniture. This gives it a creative edge that the competitors do not have. On the same note, due to the fact that IKEA makes its own furniture, its prices are lower for customized pieces compared to its competitors.
All the marketing mixes have helped the company increase its sales. The price strategy and control have ensured that the target market always knows what to expect from the company in terms of price. Additionally, as mentioned previously, the company has focused on promotions through both digital and traditional media. The extensive catalog they produce annually helps people budget to buy furniture from the store early enough. Additionally, the fact that the company has sales campaigns has increased the number of people who shop at their stores. It is critical to point out that their superior quality has also ensured good sales of their products. It is essential for brands to not only offer quality products but also be consistent in their production. The fact that the company has consistently surpassed the expectations of the client based has, in turn, also ensured increased sales.
Although IKEA is already doing well in integrating the marketing mix elements to achieve their objectives, they can reduce some of their operational costs by cutting down on traditional advertising. Recently, the company has invested in an online gaming app where users can design their dream homes with IKEA products while also checking prices. This, coupled with the fact that more people are getting information online should guide the company to increase digital advertising but reduce their traditional advertising. Printing of the physical catalog carries the bulk of the marketing budget. This can be reduced significantly if the catalog was promoted online through social media and even email. Secondly, it is recommended that IKEA collect data about their clients in order to further customize and improve the customer-consumer journey. It is not clear whether the company collects data from their target market, especially those that visit their physical shops. The data collected can remove a pain point in the customer journey by only showing the client what they are interested in as currently, the clients have to browse through hundreds of products to get what they want. The company can also leverage data to advertise new products to specific people who would be more interested in purchasing such items. Overall, IKEA has been ahead of its competitors due to the fact that it has considered the 7 Ps of the marketing mix.