On the verge of something

IKEA India gets ready to open

Street market in India showing people milling around colourful piles of flower petals.

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By Craig Pratt

IKEA is driven by the vision of creating “a better everyday life for the many people”. And right now, they are on the threshold of reaching more of the many people. Many, many, more.

Yes, after several years of preparation IKEA is about to open up shop in India.

The first IKEA store will open in Hyderabad sometime in the spring. If the monsoon is kind - a proviso that says a lot. When you come to India you have to adapt. India is India. Here, you do things on her terms.

So how is IKEA approaching the unique opportunities and challenges presented by this awakening giant? Well, to start with, by doing their homework.

People walking down a crowded street in India.

Exploring everyday life

Over the years, IKEA has visited thousands of homes around the world. If they are going to produce a range of home furnishing and household items that make life at home better, then they need to know the challenges people are facing. So, visiting lots of Indian homes was a natural starting point. “We’ve done over 800 home visits. Or “people visits” as I call them. After all what’s a home without people?” says Mia Lundström, Creative Director, IKEA India.

Turning research into insights

So, what did IKEA India learn from all these “people visits”? That Indian people are very house proud. That value for money – Paisa vasool – is key. That they are obsessed with food and include the children in practically everything they do. And lots of other valuable information that will help shape the IKEA range and meet the needs of the Indian people in the best possible way.

Mia Lundström, Creative Director IKEA, lounging on a sofa with two Indian children during a home visit.

Mia Lundström, Creative Director, IKEA India during one of her many “people visits”.

We’ve done over 800 home visits. Or 'people visits' as I call them. After all, what’s a home without people?


IKEA? What’s that?

IKEA India also learned that home furnishing is not a priority for most Indian people. They also discovered that virtually nobody in India has heard of the brand, despite the fact that IKEA has been using Indian suppliers for many years.

Disheartening? Not at all. In fact, IKEA India sees an enormous potential for change here. They’re looking forward to sharing the home furnishing knowledge they’ve pick up over the years, and to showing the people of India that making their homes more functional, beautiful and personal, needn’t be complicated nor expensive.

India. Cool since forever.

“It’s important however, that we approach with respect and humility”, continues Mia. “India has a lot to teach us too. Take the fluid home for example” she says, referring to the supposedly modern, western trend where homes are made up of multi-purpose spaces rather than traditional rooms. “I used to think that was something new and cool. But in India, that’s just everyday life.”

Indian people at home, eating together on the floor, sitting talking and reading on the sofa.

A tribute to India

And fluid living is not the only area where India is way ahead of the game. When it comes to textiles, India has always been a super power. In fact, they’ve been supplying the world with textiles for over 2000 years. Given this, it’s only natural that IKEA India would be putting textiles at the forefront.

As Mia Olsson, Country Com&In Manager, IKEA India puts it. “India has taught us a lot of what of what we know about textiles, so we thought it only fitting to pay tribute. You could say that our whole approach to textiles is a tribute to India. However, to really show our gratitude, we’ve collaborated with local designers to create a collection for the Indian market.”

Mia Lundström, Creative Director IKEA looks on as textiles are hung on a line to dry.

The spirit of change

Things are happening in India. There is a feeling that the country is really going somewhere, and in it’s in hurry to get there. People are open-minded and embracing change on all fronts: technology, schooling, politics and women’s rights.

“Another thing that makes India so inspiring is that it’s a young market” says Mia Lundström. “Half the population is under 25”. However, even though they are grabbing everything the 21st century has to offer with both hands, they are ever-mindful of their traditions. As Mia Olsson puts it, “The attitude here is ‘by all means be modern, but take your heritage with you’”.

Just the beginning

So, a young nation, looking towards the future, but with an eye on the past - full of amazing people with a fluid, open approach to life. And soon to be presented with a whole new world of home furnishing opportunities.

Sounds like big things are about happen. Watch this space.

Beautiful Indian girl in traditional costume getting her hair done.
The attitude here is ‘by all means be modern, but take your heritage with you’.


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