Launching across Ikea’s 19 stores this month, the “Metod” range aims to allow customers to personalise their kitchen with a variety of layout, style and storage options. Speaking at an event at its Wembley store today (11 February), Ikea’s kitchen product head Julian Masters says the retailer is offering a “bespoke” kitchen range and has invested in the product and service in order to improve quality perceptions.
“We want to attract John Lewis and independents’ customers. This is a brand new way of selling for us. It’s about quality, design, personalisation. We want our kitchens to fit the individual not the house,” he says.
Masters admits that in the UK market, many consumers found Ikea’s previous service strategy “challenging”, with few staff on hand to offer help. He says it will still be possible for customers who want to do everything themselves, from picking the design to installation, to come in and buy a kitchen.
However, there will now be more staff on the shop floor trained on the new range to offer help and advice to those that need it. These include a “greeter” in every store to help people interested in buying a kitchen and more “planners” tasked with finding out customers’ needs and explaining the style options.
Ikea is also testing the use of tablets in stores to make shopping for a kitchen more interactive. These are on trial in its stores in Birmingham and Nottingham.
“Previously we lost too many customers because there were no staff around to help. In the UK people want service and now we will offer that,” he says.
Ikea has also redesigned the kitchen area in its stores. Planning areas are small, quieter and “less factory-like”, with tea and coffee on offer.
Masters claims Ikea has also tried to “replicate” customers’ needs in store, creating show kitchens that reflect local demographics. For example, in Southampton, which has an older than average population, kitchens with easily accessible drawers and cupboards are on show, while in Wembley there are more kitchens suitable for small flats and single professionals.
“In every market we have a deep knowledge of our customers and we have tried to replicate what they need in store. We can then show them kitchens that suit their lifestyles so they can try them out for themselves. We want to show the customer is important,” he says.
There will also be a “working kitchen” where chefs will demonstrate how the kitchens work and home furnishing events. Masters says these are aimed at highlighting Ikea’s role as an expert kitchen retailer.
“People come into the store who might not want to buy a kitchen now. By sharing the knowledge Ikea has and holding events we hope that in future when they want to buy a kitchen they will think of Ikea. This will help boost the brand,” he says.
Ikea is initially supporting the launch of its new kitchen range with a direct marketing campaign that will go out to members of its “Ikea Family” loyalty scheme. This will be followed at Easter by above-the-line advertising using the retailer’s new strapline “The wonderful everyday”.