by Larry Mead, Kate Kompelien and Kurt Schroeder
So how do our friends across the pond design memorable brand experiences? One example that does a great job of staying true to their values is IKEA.
Europeans who desire to host dinner parties with their friends but don’t have space in their ultra-efficient apartments are no longer at a loss, IKEA has them covered. Staying true to their values: spirit of togetherness, enthusiasm, and fun, IKEA recently opened up a DIY restaurant for Brits and a permanent space for Polish to cook together while getting their Swedish meatball fix. IKEA’s voice of the customer research uncovered that more than 33% of their customers don’t have the time or space to host dinner parties. This hip IKEA off shoot allows customers to cook for themselves with the aid of chefs for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Customers are able to include up to 19 friends and family to dine for up to three hours.
However, the home retailer doesn't stop there. IKEA Norway recreated an in-store replica of a Syrian home to demonstrate the conditions families were experiencing in Syria's civil war. The price tags and posters describe how families are enduring life in Damascus and where they can donate with the Norwegian Red Cross. Certainly a different take from hosting dinner parties in London, yet IKEA stays true to their values.
Dinner parties and a replica Syrian home certainly hit the mark, but what about their employees? IKEA recently announced that U.S. employees will receive up to four months of paid parental leave, becoming one of the few chain retailers to bring benefits usually reserved for salaried workers to an hourly workforce.
Toms shoes, Pirch, and IKEA are not only getting better at understanding their customers wants and needs, but they are also anticipating their customers’ and employees’ needs as well… and sometimes even before they know what they want. They are brands being proactive in architecting experiences for both audiences, which is the next evolution.
And if getting executive buy-in or board approval to test or shift strategies is difficult, just think of when a group of hackers like Anonymous place extrajudicial sanctions on your business. The safer bet is to focus on the values with the communities, customers, and employees being served rather than simply strengthening digital security.