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5 Lessons Asian Entrepreneurs Should Learn From Ikea’s (Surprisingly Revolutionary) Company Culture

Ikea is a revolutionary icon of the retail shopping experience, and we can all learn from it

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BY Ari Zoldan - 31 Jan 2018

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

You may have heard: Ikea founder, Ingvar Kamprad recently passed at the age of 91. The founder left an inspirational impact on large and small businesses alike.

Ikea is a giant, and it has a lot to boast about, given its 262 locations in 24 countries. Most of us recognize the chain by its bright blue and yellow signature colors that scream "Smaland" (where Ikea was founded) from miles away.

Yes, Ikea's selection has been game changing in the furniture industry. And Yes, the prices are pretty competitive. But there's something stronger that allures customers all over the world to this specific chain.

By taking a deeper look at the Ikea company culture, all businesses can afford to learn a thing or two from the home goods haven that appeals to moms, dads, and professionals alike. Here are five practical tips for owners of all businesses:

1. Be true to your brand.

Image consistency is a huge factor contributing to Ikea overwhelming success. They maintain their signature style in every one of their 24 countries located, and consumers appreciate that sense of consistency. It's nice to be able to rely on a brand as your comfort zone.

Most small businesses don't have multiple locations. But there is still much you can do to make your office furniture in-lined with your waiting area, rugs and knick-knacks laying around the office. The key is brining a sense of uniqueness to your office and carrying that all the way through no matter how big or small your space is.

2. Let the customer be as independent as possible.

Part of the appeal of the Ikea shopping experience is that most of its products are prepared to be assembled by the customer. Clear instructions are provided. This empowers customers to feel personally invested in their own products.

3. Appeal to the person, not just the wallet.

When you walk into an Ikea store, merchandise isn't exactly flung at your face. On the contrary, you have to find it.

First, you are greeted with the sight of a wonderful children's play area. A free babysitting service? How delightful! Walk further, and you'll smell the aromas of a restaurant. Food? Now, this is a place where you want to stay.

Ikea understands the practical and emotional needs of its customers. Therefore, every person who walks through the door ultimately becomes a part of their relationship, and that is where the loyalty begins.

4. Be practical.

When shopping online, you probably skim over half the useless things you don't need -- or think you need.

But in an Ikea store, the layout is such that every single piece of merchandise is put into practical context. Suddenly, that slim bookcase seems useful after all.

See how brilliantly they tucked it in to that corner, just like the one that you have in your house? See how they arranged those couches? Or that ornament?

Ikea's setup is like a real home, which facilitates the decision-making process. Handy measuring tape strips and pencils are often set up at every section, so that you can really make sure things will fulfill your needs.

5. Become a master marketer.

Ikea introduced its 2015 catalog with its hilarious BOOKbook commercial campaign that sang the praises of an actual paper book. It was a funny spoof of Apple that resonated with YouTubers worldwide due to its honest and forthright message.

Ikea has a refreshing vibe in terms of its marketing. It retains its clean, no-nonsense identity while simultaneously staying current and on trend with the ever-changing needs of customers.

Its promotional techniques are multifaceted, engaging every possible potential client through various forums such as yearly catalogs, social media campaigns, and eye-catching advertisements. As an international chain, its promotional content is tailored in each country to adapt to unique and/or specific needs of different cultures.

Most small businesses don't have big budgets for extravagant design and expansive branding campaigns. The challenge for small business owners is to be creative with not only your design but your ability to get there without spending money.

Happy decorating!

**Liba Rimler contributed to this article.

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