New Delhi : Kavitha Rao, Ikea India Country Manager, is responsible for sales, marketing, furniture, customer experience and food business. During the interview, Rao Ike said he was pursuing a two-pronged approach to increase product awareness in India and help their customers understand the functionality of their products and services. Edited verses:
Most Indians did not know much about Ikea. How did you start promoting the brand?
One of the most important things for us is to know the consumers in the Indian market. It was important for us to visit customer homes, understand our daily activities and see how furniture played a role in their daily lives. In the early years, we visited about 2,000 homes in major cities in India, trying to understand what life is like in the Indian context. It really helps to go into detail about what consumer behavior is in the context of furniture. The second important step is to look at our products. We have placed Ikea products in customer homes, and we have seen exactly how they are used.
The third important step was to look at the cultural context of India and to relate what it means in terms of Ikea culture and values.
We have seen many similarities and differences and our motto: ‘Make every day brighter’ – has come.
The idea was that we, the consumers in India, wanted to see a well-designed, practical, affordable range of Ikea products. We also want to see how we can increase the demand for furniture among the consumers in the Indian market.
Is Ikea a model for marketing its products and services in India?
We still do not have a template on site. When we entered the Hyderabad market – our entrance to India – the campaigns were huge and it was important to create awareness for Ikea. The Navi Mumbai store opened in December 2020 at the end of the first wave of the CVD-19 epidemic. So, it was a very quiet marketing campaign. Of course, we had a registration-based login process to ensure it was a safe shopping experience.
Now, as we look at the next step in opening a mini-format store in Mumbai, for the first time in India, it will be very important for us to give users a choice of many different options. You can reach Ikea.
So, I say it’s too early for us to create a unique marketing template. What we are really trying to do is to keep the ecology and the changes that are taking place efficient and to adapt our marketing campaigns to the needs of the time.
Are you focusing on brand popularity in India or on Ikea products?
As a philosopher and ethicist at Ikea, we believe that product boundaries are our hallmark. In India, if you can afford to buy practical products at a very low cost, I say that is a good job.
Having said that, we are well aware that we are at the forefront of our journey through the Indian market. We are a beginner brand that is trying to build awareness and create interest in the furniture category.
So, it is really a two-pronged approach. Of course, we want our products and solutions to stand out, but for many Indians who do not know Ikon, we need to create awareness and interest in the brand.
Are you building brand engagement on digital platforms?
The cost of furniture in India is very low – about 2.5% of the total disposable income. This is much smaller than most markets around the world. We need to build more interest in the context of furniture. We have made and continued a series of home stories. In addition, we have explored many user-generated content.
People are happy to share their home on social media platforms and this creates a lot of interest in the category.
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