Pop-ups create a stir in Seoul

In preparation for the store opening, IKEA South Korea created three pop-up stores around Seoul. These spaces introduced people to the IKEA Brand and spread excitement about the coming store.

Outside South Korea store

IKEA South Korea will open a store just outside of the capital Seoul in December 2014. In preparation for the store opening, and as a way to introduce the IKEA Brand, three ‘pop-up’ stores were setup around the city.

The IKEA Seoul team was the one of the first to test pop-up stores as a way to market a new IKEA store opening. The idea was developed after carrying out home visits and focus groups with people living in the area where the IKEA store will open. Insights helped the team understand how the IKEA home furnishing offer is perceived in South Korea. They discovered that the idea of everything under one roof, home assembly and paying for delivery were all very new to future store visitors. They discovered that people move frequently so they tend not to spend a lot on home furnishings, and that there is a perception that low price equals low quality.

With all this in mind, the team realised they had a big job ahead of them to bring the IKEA Brand into the hearts and minds of their future visitors. They wanted to help people understand how the IKEA product range and home furnishing solutions make it easy and affordable to add a personal stamp to a space, and that IKEA products can create a safe and enjoyable family home.

The pop-up stores, called Hej HOME, were a new way to test getting the message out in a fun, interactive, real-life scenario. So far there have been two Hej HOMES, each carefully located to reach a diverse audience. The first was open for three weeks in Garosugil, central Seoul. “This is a very ‘trendy’ area where you find a lot of trendsetters, bloggers, word-of-mouth spreaders,” says Yunha Choi, who helped develop Hej HOME. She continues, “With a small room and the right communication, we found we could reach the many through the people in this area. With small means, we had a big impact.”

The second pop-up store, located in a popular shopping center, was open for two and a half months. The focus was on family with activities offered around Swedish traditions including fika, midsummer and crayfish parties. In this larger pop-up space they showcased room settings that mirrored the challenges South Koreans face at home. The third Hej HOME installment will happen just before the main store opens and will consist of several pop-ups located in some of the city’s busiest train stations.

So how have people in Seoul reacted to the pop-up stores? Ulf Smedberg of IKEA South Korea gives his thoughts: “People reacted very positively, they wanted to touch and feel the products and interact with the room settings. They told us they were very inspired and brought their family and friends and stayed a long time in the café and interacted with the IKEA co-workers.” Ulf also shares his thoughts on launching the IKEA Brand in a new market: “When you have an understanding of the market perception of the brand, invest time in sharing the IKEA story – and people will be inspired early on before the store launches.”