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Marketer Takes Ikea Outdoors for a Sensory Sales Experience

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.”

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Eye-Catching Displays

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.”

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