Page 5: Meeting the needs of the consumer
Because IKEA is fundamentally concerned with serving the requirements of ‘the many people,’ the design process begins with finding out what the consumer wants. IKEA therefore engages in a continual cycle of market research to find out about consumer lifestyles, what benefits consumers are seeking from a range of household furnishings, what consumer perceptions are of existing products and many other things. IKEA has always been conscious of the importance of a detailed analysis of customer needs. For example, because IKEA’s primary market is ‘the many people’ rather than the privileged few, a prime concern of furniture design will be to provide solutions for people who may live in small, compact homes. The form and function of furniture designed by IKEA is thus very much driven by the needs and requirements of consumers.
IKEA continually strives to provide beautiful, practical furniture at a low price. This means, for example, that IKEA designers work with production unit suppliers to design furniture in a way which makes the most rational use of available production capacity. It means that products are designed to be produced in environmentally suitable materials that can be purchased at reasonable prices and that products are designed so that customers can assemble them themselves at home in order to save money.
IKEA purchasers travel the world to find the best possible manufacturers at the lowest possible price, without undermining the designer’s original idea or lowering the quality of the product. The result is that design engineers are not frightened by the mathematics of making maximum use of materials and technology. It also means that customers do not need a degree in engineering to put their furniture together!
Meeting environmental standards
Nowadays, consumers demand that furniture design meets the highest environmental standards. IKEA has responded to this consumer demand and has set itself high standards which mean that:
- manufacturing is carried out so that materials, technology and transportation have the least possible damaging effect on the environment
- raw materials are used rationally and waste is minimised.
Unfortunately, no manufacturing process is completely environmentally friendly but at IKEA, a very strong emphasis is placed on thinking and acting ecologically. For example by striving:
- not to consume resources at a rate faster than nature can replace them
- not to use unnatural materials and substances
- to preserve nature and its inhabitants
- to refrain from dumping waste.