In 2017 Annual Conference

Blogger: Kim Livengood, Central West Coast Chapter

Half an hour into the Dillin Keynote, Mary Lunghi of IKEA shared a piece of unlikely research insight that left the #FPRAAC crowd laughing out loud.

With that kind of research, what’s a furniture store to do? According to Lunghi, director of business analytics & consumer insights for the beloved Swedish company, you always stay focused on the vision and the customer.

While IKEA opened to huge success in Sweden and Europe in the 50s, their 1985 American arrival was dismal. They opened outside of Philadelphia the same way they opened in Sweden.

“Without understanding the market,” said Lunghi, “they faced challenges they still struggle with today.”

Apparently, European beds are much smaller than ours.

As IKEA quickly discoverd, European beds are not the same size as beds in the US. Which means their mattress didn’t fit our frames and visa versa. That went for linens as well. And drinking glasses, that’s a whole other issue! Even today, some people in that Pennsylvania community aren’t aware these issues were resolved.

When IKEA turned to research and focused on getting personal with “Customer-Centricity,” everything changed. Starting on a global level and drilling down to regional, local, and “you,” the customer, it helped them understand differences and similarities in each market they entered.

In their continuous search for how they can “help start your day in an easier way”, they were able to utilize research and translate it into sales.

Lunghi began her presentation with the history of IKEA and shared several examples of how they conduct market research. Surprisingly for a large company, not all their efforts were expensive. They empower their internal team and loyal fans to be brand ambassadors with the goal to strive for “good results with small means”.

Tying it back into public relations, Lunghi shared how IKEA leverages their research and creates earned media opportunities that make them a thought leader within big box retail. This is more proof that marketing and public relations working together can create huge wins for companies.

And for all those IKEA fans out there, good news…. they have aggressive expansion plans to open six new stores every year for the next ten years. You will no longer have an excuse not to roam those aisles of inspirational kitchens and closets to build your own dream home.

avatar for Mary Lunghi

Mary Lunghi

IKEA U.S.
Director of Business Analytics & Consumer Insights
Lunghi has been the Market Intelligence Director for IKEA U.S. since 2009. In that role, she works among a team of research and analytics specialists with the goal of uncovering insights that will grow IKEA’s business. Lunghi and her team represent the Voice of the Consumer and use the information they discover to help optimize IKEA’s consumer outreach efforts. She has 30 years of experience in marketing, advertising and strategic planning, including stints as IKEA’s East Coast Advertising Manager and its North American Manager of Strategic Planning. Lunghi lives in the Philadelphia area and she is a graduate of Penn State University.
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