Has Ikea invented an app to stop couples rowing?

A video launched by Sweden's Ikea to promote an emoticons app designed to 'help couples communicate better' has gone viral, just in time for Valentine's Day.

Has Ikea invented an app to stop couples rowing?
A shot from Ikea's promotional 'tutorial' video.
Ikea may be one of the world's most iconic flatpack furniture stores, but it has also been known to make or break couples as they navigate from showroom to showroom making decisions about beds and sofas, before attempting to squeeze their purchases into a car, get it home in one piece and then spend the next few hours trying to put it all together.
None of this is mentioned by Ikea in the video for a new emoticon app it has just launched, which is designed to "help couples communicate better".
According to a press statement, Ikea Emoticons is an app that enables people to "easily add an additional keyboard with Ikea brand icons to their smartphone". 
"The keyboard lets people express themselves with emoji of Ikea icons, products and everyday household items," the company says.
"Ikea wants to help to keep the conversation about clutter [in the home] light and positive with friendly emoticons, all with a twinkle in the eye."
In a video which starts with a cartoon of cavemen and women – an unusual choice for a company born out of gender-equal Sweden – an Ikea 'expert' in a white coat explains that "since the dawn of time men and women have found difficulty in communication" and suggests that Ikea has the answer after four hundred years of civilisation "a series of emoticons to take the misunderstandings out of your communication".
The idea is that if you're having a bad day, rather than rowing with your partner, you can send them a meatballs icon – to explain you love them more than meatballs. You could alternatively forward them a photo of a chest of drawers you're planning to buy them to say sorry. Or something like that. 
What the company describes as a 'tutorial video' had gained almost 400,000 hits since it was launched via the international company's Netherlands YouTube channel on February 4th and the company said in a statement sent to The Local on Wednesday that it anticipated "a good deal more pick up in the coming days".
But The Local's readers seemed largely unimpressed by the idea when quizzed on Facebook.
"Would it really helps to communication between couples? Come on guys!" said Oxana Naess.
Other home European furnishing stores hit the headlines for very different reasons on Wednesday, with British decorating and furniture company B&Q admitting that it had stocked up on extra ropes and gaffa tape in anticipation of the launch of the much-hyped S&M movie Fifty Shades of Grey.
When asked by Sweden's Aftonbladet newspaper if it had done the same, Swedish home store Clas Ohlson said it had not scheduled any extra deliveries.
"It's a fun thing, but we haven't really thought about this film. We will not observe the premiere in any particular way," said its spokesperson Sara Kraft Westrell.


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.