DES: What's your take on the near-riotus customer behaviour when IKEA opened its flagship store in north London's Edmonton district?
TINA: Offering deep discounted furniture at a mid-night opening had alot to do with the headlined incident, however, most branding agencies and the media have mis-read the primary reason behind the global success of this iconic Swedish destination brand.
DES: Many experts put IKEA's success down to its well-designed, flat-packed products at relatively low prices. Others point to its in-store customer experience complete with inter-active creche, family entertainment, cafeteria and food store.
TINA: While products, prices and customer experiences are all important factors for success, those aren't the fundamental reasons for IKEA's global march to iconic superdom.
DES: After all, there have been a number of retail brands, such as Habitat, now owned by IKEA, who have attempted to sell well-designed contemporary furniture and accessories at affordable prices.
TINA: You're absolutely right on the money!
DES: So, put me out of my misery and tell me - what is IKEA's key factor for success?
TINA: In a word: Sweden.
DES: I get it, by co-branding with its country-of-origin, IKEA has aligned itself with this Scandinavian country's culture and identity.
TINA: From its 'democratically-designed' furniture to its blue and yellow national colours.
DES: But what about Sweden's infamous au pair girls and their modern-day re-incarnation - the chalet maids?
TINA: Known for their vigorously healthy, liberal sexual attitudes, these female icons represent the universal 'maiden' mythic symbol.
DES: Hence the PR story that one in ten Europeans are conceived in an IKEA bed.
TINA: But not necessarily within the marital home.
DES: Stands to reason why Europe's divorce rate is going through the roof!
TINA: Whilst you can't point the finger of blame exclusively at Sweden, this nation's identity myths - the S-words: sex-song-socialism - have embedded themselves powerfully within the IKEA brand.
DES: So everytime a consumer flops down on an IKEA sofa or slinks into an IKEA bed, they're not only sub-consciously experiencing the Swedish identity and life-style, but are also expressing their own aspirational identities - who they want to be.
TINA: From Greta Garbo to Bjorn Borg to ABBA to Volvo to Absolut to golf legend-in-the-making: Annika Sorenstam.
'Brand' the Marketect says:
"Co-branding a product with a place and its people is one of the most powerful brand-building technologies available. From country to region to city to street - the possibilities are almost endless - both in the real as well as the virtual world."