Drive south from Amman’s city center and on the airport road you’ll find the first IKEA store to open in Jordan. The store opened its doors at the beginning of March 2014 and the 35,000 square metre building is now the workplace of more than 360 IKEA co-workers.
Before the IKEA Amman store opened, market research helped define what potential customers already knew about IKEA home furnishings and stores. The research showed that over half of all Amman residents knew nothing about IKEA products and stores. However, the people who did know of the IKEA Brand had a very good understanding about it and many had purchased an IKEA product when abroad.
So, a small proportion of people knew about the IKEA Brand, while a large group knew very little. “The initial challenge was to effectively communicate the IKEA business idea to the masses, explaining the fundamentals of our self-service approach and the idea of self-delivery and the flat-pack – all while emphasising the immense savings it guarantees,” explains Emile Shaar, Country Manager, IKEA Jordan. On the subject of customers’ involvement, she continues, “The concept of self-service, which invites the customer to play a larger part in the shopping experience, was quite new to the local market.”
The IKEA Amman team also found that the homes of potential customers in Amman are often spacious and open-plan. So, the trend is for large furniture often in a traditional style. Despite this the IKEA product range and home furnishing solutions have been well received. Emile explains why, “The adaptable nature of IKEA products means that they can easily fit different people’s needs.” She continues, “There’s a growing interest in alternative design thinking in Jordan, so IKEA products fill a gap in the market, particularly with younger people, who are a big part of the local market.”
To familiarise more people with IKEA home furnishings, and to show the benefits of the flat-pack, self-service concept, IKEA Amman launched a large-scale marketing campaign prior to the official opening. This, plus the fact that the IKEA store filled a major gap in the market for quality and affordable modern furniture, helped to make the store a success. According to Emile, it didn’t take long for enthusiasm about the store to grow, “People quickly understood how the store works and really embraced the idea of self-service and assembly.”
So, what would Emile’s advice be to other IKEA stores in new markets? “It’s important to remember that every market is unique and requires its own approach. However a basic must for opening an IKEA store in any new market is extensive research that clearly identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the target market.”