IKEA: Understanding how the other half actually lives


IKEA have the enviable position of knowing that 50% of the UK population loves them. The downside is that the other half of the country does not. And whilst IKEA had made progress in the last three years telling an ever more persuasive brand story, in 2015 we found that we’d whittled those rejecters down to an immovable core. Yet whilst that group was united in their rejection, their reasons for rejection were varied – some perceived IKEA as poor value, some complained about quality, some about aesthetics and design – and those reasons cut across geography, class and demographics.

It was clear that these rejecters created a ceiling to our growth and that a one-size-fits-all approach to brand communications would not be enough to overcome the very varied reasons for rejection. Yet it was equally clear that IKEA – with over 10,000 products in their range all built around the concept of “democratic design” – had the products and expertise to win the doubters around. But how could we craft individual messages around individual reasons for rejection? And how would we do that without compromising the core of our brand?


Our idea was simple in its concept but fiendishly difficult in its execution: in a unique, integrated collaboration with Mother, we would segment the IKEA rejecters into 15 separate segments, crafting a stream of messaging tailored to the wants and needs of our audience, optimizing and refining in real time across the year.

To those who thought of the brand as low quality we would serve creative that featured the very top end hardwood furniture from the range; for the people who didn’t like the design we would show a piece of beautiful and surprising craftsmanship, and so on. And the solutions themselves would change based on reaction and response – we’d let the “other half” decide what was stylish, high quality or good value.

Within this, we could humanise the approach to adapt to their individual living circumstances, such as those who live with children, or those just starting home life. Each sub audience within that remaining 50% would see a different portrayal of the brand, and everyone would see a side of IKEA unique to their wants and needs.

Previously, this would have to be done with guesswork: audience groups patched together from attitudes, behaviours and geodemographic clusters – but no more.

Our proprietary Consumer Connection System (CCS) allowed us to uniquely fuse data from IKEA and Facebook with our own. This meant we could not only identify individuals based on their home life and attitudes to home furnishings, but also talk to them personally about it. No guesswork and no leaps of faith. The people we needed to persuade were the people we learned about, spoke with and responded to.

The rich information held with CCS allowed us to develop rich and powerful pen portraits – delving deep into the detail of their individual lives at home – everything from the number of bedrooms in their home, to their preferred grocery items. This helped to inform the creative solution, where we were able to design and build room sets based on solutions unique not only to their individual barriers to purchase, but also their individual living circumstances.

Then, a close working relationship between ourselves and Mother allowed constant monitoring of creative performance and an agile approach not just to investment but to content creation. In all, 191 pieces of content went out to 8 different segments, maintaining weekly conversation with these groups for 52 weeks of the year. Never before has mass personalization been so consistently mass nor so genuinely personal.


ROI is up from £15 to £17 – despite a budget increase of +400% (which tends to have a negative effect on ROI).

What’s more, overall campaign return to date sits at £6 ROI. Consideration of exposed versus non exposed was up 6% and social engagement has also improved by 6%.


Key Points

Tania Douglas, Media Manager, IKEA

This campaign represents the first time IKEA has been able to speak to so many audiences about different facets of the brand - and the results more than speak for themselves.