Ikea, the Dutch-owned international retailer that specializes in home furniture, accessories, bathrooms and kitchens, believes strongly in experiential marketing or left-brained versus right-brained marketing to engage the consumer emotionally, said Kathy Cunningham, a principal of Advanced Marketing Strategies, which has the Mission Valley outlet as a client.
“If you go to a department, you’ll see whole room settings and they design them with different targets in mind,” Cunningham said. “One might be a teen setting or another for couples. They might be more modern or more traditional in style.”
For example, a bed on display might also include a dresser, rugs, lamps and other accessories. “So the idea is to get you to see yourself inside this room and it helps sell or up-sell products as well, because customers who came in to buy a bed would also be more apt to buy the other accessories,” she said. “The products are three-dimensional and once the customer touches them they get involved and that leads to desire, which leads to purchasing.”
While Ikea is in charge of its in-store displays Advanced Marketing Strategies takes the store’s wares on the road. Armed with research on the lifestyle of Ikea’s target market, aged 40 or younger, from Claritas Inc. , a local company whose services include customer profiling , Cunningham said her agency selects a variety of spots throughout the county to set up displays to get the retailer message across, that it offers a variety of “well-designed products that make everyday life better.”
The idea is to position the items where they evoke an element of surprise and delight and to prompt passersby to want to visit the store.
One eye-catching display involved metal stools, wastebaskets and bold red plastic circle rugs and cups in front of phone booths along a Hillcrest sidewalk. Meanwhile, a couch, pillows, coffee tables and the same red circle rugs were set up at a beachside park in La Jolla. Recently, a settee arrangement was placed in the paddock area of the Del Mar Racetrack during a free Four O’Clock Friday concert series, which caters to the same demographic as Ikea. Radio station personalities from 91X, XTRA-FM, used the lounge-type arrangement to interview band members.
“91X brands themselves as different, rebel, and you want your brand (Ikea) to be associated with a like brand,” Cunningham said in describing a “halo effect” that results by association.
“I see experiential marketing working for any customer on any sized budget,” she added. “If you have a low budget it’s a way to get attention.”