Ikea catalogue celebrates Swedish diversity

Flat-pack furniture giant Ikea launched its new catalogue on Thursday amid much coverage in the Swedish national press.

Each August, the arrival of the new Ikea catalogue is eagerly awaited in Sweden, and has become something of a national event. The catalogue is printed 198 million times and published all over the world, but Swedes really look forward to what must be one of the country’s most well-thumbed publications.

This year’s the catalogue’s theme is diversity – ‘mångfald’ – with Ikea claiming to offer even more living and interior solutions for the diverse way we live today.

In a press statement, Jeanette Söderberg, CEO for Ikea Sweden explained the thought behind the new catalogue’s diversity message.

“We are all different. We have different lifestyles, different tastes and different living situations. The diversity around us today isn’t just good, it is fantastic, giving more creativity and new points of view regarding our existence”, she said.

One could say that Ikea embodies today’s Swedish diversity – and conformity. The company’s employees in Sweden alone speak 44 different languages. At the same time, there is hardly a Swede in Sweden who does not own furniture from Ikea.

Despite Ikea’s increased investment in their online services, the catalogue is still part of the company’s marketing backbone. This year’s catalogue focuses a lot on living rooms, and according to Ikea’s recent investigation into Swedish lifestyles, Swedes’ living rooms make up a quarter of their total living area.

The survey of over 1,000 people showed that Swedes are likely to fall asleep in their three-seater brown sofa, twice a week on average. The average living room in Sweden is 27 square metres and has six pictures on the walls, usually landscapes.

67 percent of Swedes have wallpaper on the walls and 19 percent tend to lose the TV remote control under their sofa cushions. A bit like most TV-watching nationalities.

Ikea has 17 stores in Sweden that are visited by 30 million people annually. At present there are 9,500 products for sale at Ikea. This year’s catalogue includes around 3,500 of those products, of which about 1,000 are completely new.

However, Ikea has produced twice as many sofa upholstery covers this year so you don’t have to commit to a new sofa if you are sick of the old one. Just buy some new upholstery and change the look for a while.

According to Ikea trend reports, people don’t want to make a big commitment when they furnish and decorate their homes. People plan for the next five years now, not for life.

But it seems as though Ikea has been around for much longer than most young people’s lifetime. In October, Ikea’s first store will turn 50. The Älmhult store, in Sweden, was the first to open its doors to customers in 1958. Customers could experience a range of home furnishings in person and the flat pack concept meant that the goods could be easily transported home.

Today, there are over 285 Ikea stores worldwide displaying a range of home furnishing solutions to meet the different budgets of different people.


Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price

In the run-up to what would in normal times be the festive season sales rush, Ikea has vowed to buy back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

Ikea will buy back your used furniture at up to half the price
Got any pieces of Ikea furniture at home? You may be able to get rid of it and get money back. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Ikea, the world's largest furniture chain, said Tuesday it would begin buying back used furniture from customers to resell – and pay up to 50 percent of the original price.

The “Buy Back Friday” scheme, timed to coincide with the “Black Friday” pre-Christmas retail frenzy, will run from November 24th and until December 3rd in 27 countries.

“Rather than buy things you don't need this Black Friday, we want to help customers give their furniture a second life instead of making an impulse buy,” said Stefan Vanoverbeke, deputy retail operations manager at Ingka Group, Ikea's parent company.

To address concerns its affordable, flat-pack products encourage overconsumption and waste, the Swedish company had previously said it would start renting and recycling furniture as part of an eco-drive.

Under its buyback scheme, the group said that “anything that can't be resold will be recycled or donated to community projects to help those most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

“Some countries like Australia and Canada for example are currently testing different buyback services, but BuyBack Friday will be the first time that 27 countries do this together,” the statement added.

The Swedish giant employs over 217,000 people and has more than 50 outlets. Its annual turnover is around 40 billion euros ($46 billion).

The group did not specify how it would determine the price paid for second-hand furniture and customers will receive a voucher, not cash, for their products.  

As part of efforts to reduce waste, Ikea has already begun repairing and re-packaging products in every store that have been damaged in transit, as well as allowing customers to return products – including furniture – for resale or donation to charities.