Ikea’s regeneration plan faces an inconvenient truth, or three

Published 07 May 2021 2 minute read

Strategic Thinking
Select Child

This week, Ikea launched its buy-back system, as part of its desire “to become ‘climate-positive’ by 2030.”

Good intentions for sure, but is this truly driven by a desire to “reduce the amount of products going to landfill”, and regenerate Billys and Poängs?

Eternally-questioning is how we should all be, as I am being now (particularly with my consumer insight research hat on), and for good reason.

First, the world is full of second-hand furniture.

My entire house, from top to bottom, is furnished with second-hand furniture, all of which has the kind of patina that comes with age and love. Some pieces are a few hundred years old, some are just twenty or thirty.

All cost less than any Ikea piece and are solid as the day they were made.

And, I’m not an unusual purchaser.

This past year, consumer insight research saw a 404% year-on-year increase in second-hand sales from two years ago, as revealed in eBay’s lockdown data report (and described by Fashion United, while “as many pre-loved items as there are people in the UK (66 million), went to a new home in 2020.”

The same report also shows a definitive shift in values. Almost one-third more second-hand purchases were from small and smallish independent sellers and retailers, not from large Swedish corporations.

beautiful sofa in a modern living room (1)

Second, as anyone who’s ever tried to take a piece of Ikea furniture apart to move it know the re-assembling process is fraught with challenges.

Not least of which is the fact that it just doesn’t go back together very well.

And, Ikea has the same problem. They have no idea how to take their own furniture apart, other than jumping on it from a height, and so it’ll need to be delivered, they say, to the store fully-assembled.

So, their plan is not to recycle but regenerate. That is, to resell it.

Either in-store, or online, for which they’ve even created a partnership with Gumtree.

But while the concept of regeneration is absolutely what we should be talking about and acting on (especially when looking at results from consumer insight research), this move could be a misjudgement of the shifting values of the consumer.

Not to mention a bit of a smokescreen for capitalizing on the change in the way we’re thinking about what to have in our homes.

Third, when you add to this plan the need to drive old furniture to a store...

... and for potential purchasers to drive to that same store to collect it, Ikea have actually added to journey times and fuel consumption, as there are now two journeys rather than one.

So, while Ikea plans to be fully circular by 2030, and this could be seen as an active move toward that...

...it comes very close to tapping-into the trend of shifting consumer values to generate a new stream of revenue for the brand.

But hey, give it a go. Load your old Malm bed into the Mini Cooper, drive it the thirty miles to the store, and unload it, for 40% of its original value, if it’s in great condition.

And your reward for all that?

An Ikea voucher for the value to spend in Ikea.

An inconvenient truth may yet prove a tough one to face for Ikea.

Discover our platform and services

Platform-only

The insight platform for online qual, research communities, digital diaries, ethnography and more.

Services & Support

A range of expert research services and resources to help you deliver your projects with ease, speed and reach.

Expertise

Human insight with impact; leveraging our academic and industry experts to uncover insight, create impact and make confident decisions.

Conde-Nast (1) (1)
Conde_Nast_logo-copy

We were amazed at the level of insight we achieved in just a week. Further opened our eyes to new ways of researching and understanding our staff

We helped Conde Nast International define a new global mission and vision statement

van-tay-media-Kab_-4M4I74-unsplash (1)
Vouch-for-Me-Logo

Further really understood the brief and were extremely proactive. We are now very confident that we’re taking the right products and proposition to market.

We helped this insuretech startup tailor their customer value proposition for the UK market ahead of a planned launch

Keyhouse (1) (1)
Keyhouse

Further's expert team pushed us to clarify our assumptions and to think harder about how to communicate the value of our products and services

We helped Keyhouse enter a new market and understand what target users of their case management software needed and how to position their offer

FTH001_Mother_2_children_tablet (1)
UNICEF-Logo

Working with Further was a refreshing and eye-opening experience…...the qualityof their output which was excellent.

We helped Unicef generate insights to support the development of a mass market, sustainable fundraising product.

Zwift image (1)
Zwift-logo (1)

Strategically, Further’s insights provided clear and directional answers that will guide us through our next phase of growth

We helped Zwift understand users and non-users needs and wants so they could prioritise their innovation pipeline

Chillys image case study (1)
Chillys-logo (1)

We helped Chilly’s leadership team consider new ways to understand and co-create with their customers’

We helped disruptive pet insurance company Waggel develop customer personas and map out the current and intended customer journey.

What next?

Browse our site, download our resources, request a demo of our platform or speak to one of our experts

Browse our work
Request a demo
Book consultation