IKEA’s focus towards shopping experience is part of their effort in building brand loyalty. As you can see from the pictures, every bed in the store are occupied, with children and adults falling asleep. IKEA does not discourage this. They realize that the more customers choose to relax in its showrooms, the more likely they will have positive attitude towards its brand and make a purchase once their incomes catch up with their aspirations.
In contrast, competitors lack building brand loyalty. 11-furniture, has successfully copied the IKEA’s products as well as customer shopping experience by letting customers to try on the products. However, many still say that at the real IKEA, the layout is much neater. Therefore, the brand image of IKEA would still be better perceived compared to the fake stores’. B&Q does not have showrooms for people to have direct touch and feel of the products. B&Q does provide service such as interior design consultation. However, research has also shown that Chinese customers might hesitate to do face-to-face consultation. Therefore trust and brand loyalty are hard to develop. AIKA, are focusing more on manufacturing low-cost products with limited effort in providing shopping experience to build brand loyalty. Therefore, they may lose their potential customers to the IKEA in the future.
Through globalization, Chinese customers have greater exposure to Western trends and lifestyles. However, this trend is not necessarily prevalent across all demographics within China. Therefore, to determine whether IKEA is effectively tapping into this trend, we need to examine the level of acceptance of Western shopping experience and products of IKEA’s target market. IKEA mainly targets young adults, typically aged 25-35, who live in Tier 1 cities where they get exposed to Western brands. This generation was born under the One Child Policy, known informally as “little emperors” who are characterized as being impulsive and easily influenced. Therefore, we could say that IKEA’s target market could be easily aspire to western brand’s high quality and culture. As a result, shopping experience by IKEA is very suitable with the need of consumers to try western products.
On the other hand, competitors such as 11 Furniture and AIKA do not represent the western culture. Those Chinese customers who hold a high regard for Western culture will favour Western brands over local brands. Arguably IKEA’s closest competitor, 11 Furnitre who tries to replicate IKEA, has one fundamental difference. It does not provide the Western culture or image IKEA projects. Every detail of the store equates 11 Furniture with Chinese culture in the minds of customers, while IKEA is equated with the Western culture and experience.