The name IKEA has become synonymous with inexpensive, stylish, self-
assembly home furnishings. However, today’s brand is a far cry from its original version
in 1943. Back then, IKEA was a mail-order company, selling basic sundries. Not until
later that decade did they begin selling furniture. By the early 1950’s, IKEA had
introduced their now-famous catalog, and in 1956, they started designing the familiar
self-assembly furniture that fits in flat packaging. Their first store finally opened in 1958
in Älmhult, Sweden.
Throughout the next several decades, the company expanded to over 300 stores
in 38 countries and made their U.S. debut in 1985. They improved quality through
careful product testing, introduced low-cost, highly durable materials like fiberboard and
particleboard, and cut costs by acquiring their own sawmills and production plants to
make wood furnishings and components. Further, they developed the IKEA Food
brand, and started opening restaurants in their stores. In 1997, they introduced
Children’s IKEA, a line geared specifically towards children, and launched their own
website. By 2000, customers could shop for their favorite IKEA products online.
Today, IKEA is a successful global brand with many loyal customers. This is due
in large part to the implementation of the company’s vision, which since 1943, has been
to “create a better everyday life for the many people.” Because of this, their customers
have become almost fan-like in their allegiance to the IKEA brand.
IKEA has positioned itself as a high-volume, low-cost home goods retailer. As
such, they are competing not only against furniture retailers, but also against retail