IKEA: Making Everyday Matter

“We discovered a happy life at home is a mix of my space, your space, and our space – but people have a hard time really defining my space, within mixed and shared spaces.”

Lydia Choi-Johansson Intelligence Specialist, IKEA

The Brief:

IKEA, the world’s largest modern home furnishing retailer, are a company driven by the vision of creating a better life at home for as many people as possible.

But they don’t see themselves as just a retailer. They want to help build a sustainable future by transforming the way people live, eat, sleep and dream through quality, affordable products. They believe that when you create a better life at home, you’re on the path to creating a better life.

IKEA placed their trust in us to reinforce that belief. Together, we conducted the research and created IKEA’s Life at Home Report 2017. We wanted to understand people’s needs and dreams of Life at Home in 2017 and compile a piece of thought leadership that would get the world talking.

Our Approach:

Together, we conducted the research and created IKEA’s Life at Home Report 2017. We wanted to understand people’s needs and dreams of Life at Home in 2017 and compile a piece of thought leadership that would get the world talking. For the 2017 Life At Home Report, IKEA wanted to go further than ever before to understand people’s needs and dreams at home. Over the course of six months, we used an ambitious, new mix of qualitative and quantitative methodologies. We journeyed across the globe and spent 874 hours exploring people’s lives in order to understand what makes a better life at home.

Our methodology was comprehensive, precise and empirical. We conducted 36 in-home interviews in Austin, Chengdu, Osaka, Copenhagen, Mumbai, and Munich. We ran online communities in seven core, globally representative countries (USA, China, India, Denmark, Germany, Japan and Russia). We interviewed four experts who specialise in ethnographic research, future archaeology and industrial design, materialism, psychology, as well as digital and cultural anthropology. We created a strand of research called ‘Home Pioneers’ – where we found people living in alternative ways, or in very different kinds of homes. Through self-directed video research and a workshop in Copenhagen where they came together from 6 countries, we gave them control of the agenda. And we surveyed more than 21,000 people across 22 countries to robustly validate insights and hypotheses.


Solving the challenge from the customer’s perspective

Frame the Problem

We looked at the project as if we were writing a Hollywood film – turning live research into a compelling story. The story flexed and grew through a series of ‘edit’ workshops; meaning that both the Insight and Communications Teams could help IKEA create an active guide to creating better homes.

Make Space

We identified a group of unique, creative characters found across the world. Despite their differences in living conditions, our ‘Home Pioneers’ all felt united as creative individuals – so this was utilised in the methodology. To uncover the truth of what home really meant to them, they were connected through video diaries and text chats. 18 of them were flown out for a co-creation workshop.

Build Relationships

We were working with customers online in markets that required cultural sensitivity (e.g. China and Russia). We wanted to make them feel comfortable and open up enough to share. We effectively did this through non-verbal communication. So we empowered them to use emojis, photos or projective drawing techniques. This allowed us to eventually uncover the 5 key tensions that make life at home challenging.

The Impact:

The communication package created to support the launch of the findings focused on what we called The Five Tensions – universal frustrations that people all over the world could relate to, such as fighting over mess in the home, and feeling exhausted at the thought of a DIY project.

Films and animations brought a playful touch to the sometimes serious subject matter, and generated a wide range of media hits in numerous countries, from talk-show discussions with listeners in Belgium, to major profiles in the business pages in Germany. Framing the content episodically, so that local communications leads could decide the best time to use it, and for ease of use on social media, also helped further the discussions, supported by an interactive microsite.

But the real success of this project is felt in the long-term plans and activities now underway across IKEA. Bringing knowledge back into the brand was a clear objective – so we used different routes to inform thousands of IKEA co-workers, including bespoke workshops, internal communication tools, and regular department briefings.

As a result, next year’s IKEA Catalogue will include editorial content which references our research, sharing this with millions of people; IKEA Group’s Global Marketing team are launching a Home Pioneers awards programme; and IKEA’s global communications strategy has the Life at Home Report at the heart of it.