22 May 2024, 13:34
By Furniture News Oct 29, 2014

Ikea's Peter Wright on the book with benefits

Ikea continues to forge a path for multichannel retail with its latest catalogue, which, through its tie-in app, offers more films, 360° views, and builds the Augmented Reality (AR) offering, allowing users to graphically realise more than 300 pieces of furniture to scale in their own homes. Paul Farley finds out more from country marketing manager for Ikea UK & Ireland, Peter Wright.

The latest edition of the Ikea catalogue, published at the end of August, marked the third consecutive year of extended content, a range of features designed to extend the publication’s lifespan through greater engagement with customers. By weaving online experiences into the printed brochure, Ikea aims to give readers an experience beyond what they might expect, imparting more knowledge, inspiring and entertaining them – in short, engaging them better than ever.

“With changing consumer trends, we know that more and more people want to engage and explore traditional media,” explains Peter Wright. “That’s why, three years ago, we decided to extend the life of the catalogue by introducing extended digital content.”

By downloading the Ikea Catalogue App from Apple’s App Store or Google Play, a customer can, in tandem with the physical brochure, access a wealth of special features.

This edition’s extended content has a particular emphasis on film, allowing Ikea, through mobile scans, to tell its stories in a way that users can easily digest and share. The films range from quick, do-it-yourself tips and summaries of the company’s work in areas such as sustainability, to deeper explorations of particular home furnishing solutions.

As well as an image gallery, and a slideshow option based on a model or room space, there’s now the option to take a 360° view of several roomshots, putting the user at the centre of the solution.

However, the most noteworthy element of the extended content is the well-documented Place in your Room feature, which makes use of AR technology to allow users to visualise how a piece of furniture will actually look in their home.

“With the trend of urbanisation, many more people now struggle with living in smaller spaces”

The user simply places the print catalogue on the floor in the space in which they wish to test a product. Through the user’s smartphone or tablet camera, the Ikea Catalogue App then identifies the catalogue and uses it to gauge the correct scale for the products, which are then shown on screen, superimposed on the empty space. Customers can then test different products to find the right one for their home – finding the perfect fit in terms of both size and colour.

Place in your Room was developed after Ikea found that many of its customers suffer from ‘square peg, round hole’ syndrome – research found that 14% had bought wrongly-sized furniture for their rooms, and over 70% did not know how large their homes actually were. The UK has the smallest houses in Western Europe, so making the most of the available space, particularly when purchasing larger furniture pieces, is a critical concern.

“With the trend of urbanisation, many more people now struggle with living in smaller spaces,” explains Peter. “When our designers and interiors experts started to think about how we could use AR to help our customers, we felt that we could solve some of the very real problems they face. The app certainly helps our customers see how they can maximise their space, and how new pieces of furniture might sit alongside the old ones.”

This year’s catalogue sees the roster of products within Place in your Room increase from 90 to more than 300. “This year’s extended content has more appealing content for broader audiences, so more style options can be explored,” says Peter. “We hope this means there will be something for everyone.”

As well as a TV advertising push – you might have seen the novel Bookbook ad – the catalogue’s August release was bolstered by social media engagement, which, says Peter, “allows us to tell stories beyond the printed page. We hope that our fans will like and share our films, meaning we reach more audiences than ever before”.

Added barcode and article number scanning functionality within the app means that the in-store experience too is improved – users can scan product barcodes for price and information, to add and remove items on their shopping list, and to find the product’s location in the self-service warehouse.

This year’s catalogue offers extended content across more than 60 of its spreads, further affirming Ikea’s innovative approach to selling. “We visit hundreds of customers’ homes every year to understand how people live, their dreams, and the everyday challenges they face,” explains Peter. “We survey our [loyalty scheme] Ikea Family members, and some stores even review property websites – this helps us better understand how we can help improve life at home, and we then reflect our findings in our store roomsets.

“The people who read the catalogue tell us they love it, and mainly use it for inspiration and planning – it will remain a core element in our media strategy.”

This article was published in the October issue of Furniture News magazine.

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