Sunday 25 August 2019

Why Ireland became 'Ikea Island'

'It's not just furniture shopping, this is entertainment'

An Ikea store
An Ikea store
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

What is it about Ikea that we love?

This week it was revealed that more than 75pc of people in Ireland have visited the Ballymun outlet, and that 65pc of us have at least one piece of Ikea furniture in our homes.

Be that a Malm dresser or a wiggly krabb mirror.

The store opened in 2009, in the wake of the bust.

While this may have been a death knell for many businesses, according to retail consultant Eddie Shanahan, it could well be the key to the store’s success.

“Ikea arrived after the boom, a time when people’s interest in housing and home décor was still at a high. Ikea allowed them to access interior design at a flexible price point,” he said.

His and hers clothes storage from Ikea
His and hers clothes storage from Ikea

“It satisfied the appetite for home design that consumers had built up during the boom, and allowed them to indulge but within a reasonable budget” he said.

On top of this, Ikea revolutionised furniture shopping for Irish homeowners. Buying a three piece sofa and a new bed was no longer a momentous life decision.

“We didn’t have anything like this before, furniture shops like this had never existed in Ireland and what’s rare is precious,” Mr Shanahan explains.

Much like fashion retail giant Penneys, Ikea is also a ‘destination store’.

Between the kids play area, the winding layout, the display show rooms, and the meatballs – heading out to Ballymun is never a five minute pitstop, it's an excursion in itself.

“You don’t go there simply to shop, it’s an experience, it’s entertainment,” Mr Shanahan explains.

Most importantly, Ikea makes shoppers feel like artists.

We are piecing together the rooms, they give us a jigsaw and let the consumer feel as if they are creating something entirely unique to them.

“It plays on the idea of consumers as the interior designer, as the artist,” Mr Shanhan says. “And after shows like Grand Designs that’s very appealing to consumers."

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