IKEA Småland: No Instructions Needed

ikea-smalandI am not a big fan of shopping at IKEA, but on a recent trip there with the family I discovered something (a fabulous touch point) that has completely shifted my feeling on the store. Tucked back in a corner near the entrance is a place they call Småland, a children’s play area. This touch point is even better than the meatballs they sell at the food court.

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So what is Småland and how does it work. It is a play area where we were able to drop off our son while we shopped. Instead of him having to tag along with Mom and Dad, he got to play in ball pits, on sliding boards, tunnels, climbing obstacles and even watch a movie. That is right; he got to have a blast in Småland while we shop for the furniture and home goods we needed. No more having to chase him through the kitchen models or drag him along as he gets bored and restless. We could concentrate on our shopping and he gets to run around in an area where it is allowed. There are some rules, age restrictions and requirements like the children must be potty trained, but the best part… it is free of charge.

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Småland is a great example of a company looking outside of its normal operations and creating a touch point for the brand that is unexpected. A touch point that creates a positive perception for the brand, I know it did for me. With this one simple idea, IKEA as completely shifted my perception of the brand and changed my feeling about having to go shop there. Their furniture may still come with some of the least helpful instructions, but their stores provide an enjoyable shopping environment having Småland available for the kids.

Author: Gary Balakoff

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Fads: They Eventually Crumble

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Gourmet cupcake chain, Crumbs, recently made news because it is closing several of its stores due to poor and declining sales. Crumbs is now in the middle of a complete brand shift and moving their products into grocery stores. It is yet to be seen if this move will save the company but one thing is for sure, more Crumbs stores are going to close. This brings me to a question, is it really worth it to hitch your business to a fad or trend?

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As we are seeing with Crumbs, businesses built on fads will eventually come to an end. This isn’t the first time this as happened either, there was Krispy Kreme with their hot donuts, Brazilian steakhouses with their swords full of meat and who could forget Crocs and their ugly (as far as I am concerned) shoes.

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I don’t blame these companies; fads are a great way to make a quick buck if you can capitalize on them, but be careful building a business off of trends. If you do at least have an exit tragedy ready to go because it will end and when it does you don’t want to be scrambling to figure things out as the ship goes down. Crumbs may make it through this, but they should have seen it coming and had this business shift planned a long time go.

Author: Gary Balakoff