Social Question

syz's avatar

Why is Ikea so popular?

Asked by syz (35649points) January 17th, 2010

There’s a new(ish) Ikea in Charlotte, NC, and people will drive for hours to shuffle through it en masse. It’s like standing in line at Disney during a holiday weekend. Sure, some of the design elements are cool. The furniture is affordable, but it’s pretty poor construction (although better than Target or Walmart, certainly). What’s the real appeal?

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38 Answers

lilikoi's avatar

Do you see anyone else selling cheap furniture that doesn’t look hideous? Exactly.

I think their designs are actually pretty good (from the limited things I have encountered – there is no Ikea in Hawaii).

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Their swedish meatballs perhaps
I cant blame them…
Also I guess a lot of people like their designs and at an affordable price, too

Austinlad's avatar

Ah, but navigating the place is a nightmare.

mangeons's avatar

I like Ikea furniture.

asmonet's avatar

@Austinlad: It actually makes a lot of sense if you follow the floor arrows. You wander through each section as if it were a house and see things on display as if it were one. There are maps all over the place on almost every pillar along with shopping aids, like forms for what you like, pencils and measuring tapes. Once you kick the idea of a normal furniture store, it’s fairly easy to adapt.

As for why people like it, so many reasons! I like their meatballs, I love most of the designs and it’s all fairly easy to fit into an apartment. The quality isn’t something I fret over, although everything I have from IKEA has lasted years already and is in good shape.

And besides all of that, you can pack an entire room of crap to the top of a civic and drive away. The flat packing makes everything super easy to handle. And once you get home the directions are fairly easy to follow.

@mangeons: High five, lil monkey.

syz's avatar

@mangeons Why? Is there something about is that is so appealing that you would drive for hours and fight massive crowds? I don’t doubt that there are worthwhile products, I just don’t get the cult-like appeal.

asmonet's avatar

@syz: I did. Near the holidays too! I bought a new bedroom set, a new desk and some stuff for our kitchen for under $400. Worth it.

And, I like modern, clean and bright furniture with a splash of whimsy. IKEA was basically made for me.

DominicX's avatar

I’m guessing because it is affordable and a lot of people like the modern design; that modern design is very popular right now. Also, Sweden is the closest we have to a perfect country: extremely highly developed, high satisfaction with life, least homophobic developed country, awesome bubblegum dance music, and brightly colored furniture. Oh, and the meatballs.

I went to Ikea to get a bunch of stuff for my dorm room; it’s the perfect place for that. Not to mention the store itself is organized in such a way that it’s accommodating. There’s food there, it’s very child-friendly, it’s organized very well (showroom on top, warehouse separate from the smaller items, etc.)

Also, I really love Ikea now because that’s where I told my family I was gay. We were shopping there over Thanksgiving break at the Ikea in Emeryville and that’s where I told them. So now I’m always going to associate that with Ikea. Additionally, my mom is a big fan of Ikea, and she’s someone who loves fancy expensive furniture.

Some of the furniture they sell there is better than others, though. You have to know what to look for. I’m no expert, but my mom is always examining things up close and can easily tell which one is stronger and more durable than the other.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Don’t forget, that’s where Bathory is from!
Brace yourself for some swedish epicness

Austinlad's avatar

True, @mangeons, but on a weekend, when the place is loaded with people, it takes a lot of patience. ;-)

judochop's avatar

IKEA pretty much rules. I’ve got a couch that I paid $600 for three years ago and it still feels like new. I have their silverware, plates, entertainment center, leather chair, pots and pans, drapes, candles, kitchen chairs….My house is like a mini IKEA. My frizzer even stocks Swedish Meatballs.

jaytkay's avatar

I accidentally turned into an Ikea parking lot yesterday, thinking it was a major street. EVERYBODY was going in there!!

It’s like crack cocaine for anybody who needs attractive low-priced furniture.

Personally, I never buy the particle-board stuff. Otherwise, sure, what’s not to like?

casheroo's avatar

It’s just awesome. It’s Ikea. I have no other way of explaining it.

Coming from a gal with a bedroom entirely done by Ikea..with the website opened currently looking for storage for my sons bedroom.

Kiev749's avatar

i rather do enjoy the styles that they offer. Its a new spin off of the contemporary.

Spinel's avatar

The real appeal is the fluff.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I’m a little surprised that people would drive that far to “shop” at an Ikea in NC, since that’s the home of so much high quality preassembled furniture in this country. But that’s what has me thinking… maybe some of the “shoppers” are actually gathering intel on what NC furniture factories should start to produce. You can’t argue with their popularity. You might not always understand “why” it’s popular, but if you’re a competitor you don’t need to know “why”, only “how”.

I used to work for an RTA furniture company in Michigan (RTA = ready-to-assemble), and we made some of the Ikea line as a subcontractor to them. They did have excellent quality control; our whole plant improved by virtue of the quality standards that Ikea forced us to live up to in order to make their stuff. When we were doing Ikea runs they would have their quality guy come to our plant to oversee the operation; it wasn’t that we learned so much from him (I worked in QA at the time, and he wasn’t telling us anything new), but management was forced to do the things we had always been trying to get them to do anyway.

casheroo's avatar

Oh, $1 frozen yogurt cones! And no taxes added. It makes me feel like I’m stealing.

ubersiren's avatar

It’s really affordable stuff and pretty stylish. The down side is that it’s flimsy and poor quality. We’ve purchased Ikea stuff, and for us, it’s more of a it’ll-last-us-until-we-can-afford-better thing. Our whole kitchen is Ikea and we’re actually really happy with it. Although, I think their kitchens are a little different- they’re decently made and have a 10 year warranty. But, it’s just minor first home stuff.

susanc's avatar

The kitchen cabinets are fabulous – and all the little kitchen towels and drinking glasses and stuff like that. Sheets and towels, thin and nasty with no hems. Furniture is good-looking but when it falls apart, the hardware is Swedish so you’re kinda stuck with a staple gun and duct tape; and any particleboard furniture is excellent only for stopgap.

Haleth's avatar

I love how cheap Ikea’s furniture is. If you’re a college student or you’re basically broke, Ikea is the only cheap NEW furniture you can afford. I’ve gotten tons of cheap/ free furniture from craigslist, family, or roommates, but sometimes it’s nice to plan out an entire room of your own new furniture instead of mixing and matching stuff you got from other people.

But their furniture names are really annoying. I have a TULLSTA chair and two LACK end tables (which sell for only $7.99) and I wonder, why are the names in all caps? And could the names possibly tell us any less about the product? I wish the name were more helpful and descriptive, like “red canvas chair” or “small black table.”

judochop's avatar

It’s a different language my friend.

mangeons's avatar

@syz I honestly have never actually been to an Ikea store. I look at their catalogs and their website, and I’m not the one who goes and buys the furniture, so~

eponymoushipster's avatar

Many of us grew up with Lego, and it simply “adutlifies” Lego for us hipsters.

Haleth's avatar

@judochop I know it’s all Swedish. But it seems like they purposely made a marketing decision not to translate the names- maybe because Americans equate foreign-made with quality? Who knows? Maybe all their names would be completely meaningless if we understood Swedish, like calling a product TABLE table, or they’re having a laugh at us because we’re buying a BOOBS bookshelf. :p

asmonet's avatar

@Haleth: It’s called branding.

judochop's avatar

Have you visited a store? It’s the same color as their flag, they serve Swedish Meatballs? They pride themselves on everything Swedish and are very good at it. I would not look for them to change anything anytime soon.

Ron_C's avatar

Durable furniture that you can haul home without renting a truck.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Haleth the names are simply the names of Swedish towns and villages, and not intended to be in any way descriptive.

Darwin's avatar

I have bought Scandinavian furniture for years. It is inexpensive, easy to put together, easy to move, and looks decent, with nice, clean lines that allow it to mix with other styles of furniture. Much of it is simple to take apart if you need to move, and much of it is very clever.

In the “old” days you had to look pretty hard for a Scandinavian furniture store, and you had to stock up on teak oil when you found one, so you could keep your furniture looking nice. Such furniture is a bit more common, with all the Chinese-made copies. However, I don’t really see the need for a vast super-store, so I have never been to Ikea and probably won’t start any time soon.

If I need any of it, I’ll buy it online.

philosopher's avatar

People think they have good prices . I do not agree. The quality is often not present .

YARNLADY's avatar

Shopping with the family at IKEA is very like a free day at an amusement park. There are no rides, but there are a lot of interesting things to see, and great food at very low prices. If you have a family, in this economic climate, you take your fun where you can. As to the quality, it is very good when compared to the price. If you could find similar furniture, which you can’t, at any other store, it would cost a lot more.

rooeytoo's avatar

One of the biggest draws is that you can take it home with you usually in the back of your car. If you go to a traditional furniture store, you must wait 8 weeks until your new sofa comes in, then you need a truck to get it home.

I love the instant gratification!

Darwin's avatar

The furniture looks nice, at least for several years, and it is low-cost enough that people don’t mind throwing it away or shifting it into the garage when it no longer looks that terrific. And, as @rooeytoo points out, you can fit it in the back of your car and take it home right then and there. You may have to spend a bit of time with an allen wrench putting it together, but it is cost-effective.

mattbrowne's avatar

Same thing happened in Germany 25 years ago. I was like a spreading fever. Not sure the responsible virus has been identified yet.

zensky's avatar

It combines two things I despise: cheap quality and do-it-yourself. Hate Ikea.

philosopher's avatar

LOL people go there thinking they are getting a bargain. In reality most of it is over priced junk.

Ron_C's avatar

I like the idea of putting kits together but don’t like the particle board underneath the veneer. It is heavy, tends to sage and will rapidly decay if water damaged.

dabbler's avatar

Good value is high on the list. If they have something you need it’s likely to be reasonable quality and fairly low price.
We’re lucky here that we don’t have to drive hours to get to the closest Ikea. They run a free ferry boat from lower Manhattan over to their RedHook store. That makes the whole outing seem less like a drudgery than… an outing!
I do get frustrated when I know exactly what I want and where it is in the store, and I have to negotiate their laid-out shopping experience or find short-cuts.

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