The Iconic IKEA Bag: A masterclass in leveraging your brand assets

Whilst many brands are leaving the high street and gearing their focus towards online channels, IKEA has done quite the opposite by investing in a huge Oxford Street store (RIP Topshop).

Although not yet opened, if like some of us you have the pleasure of circulating weekly via Oxford Circus station, you may have noticed the giant 62-ft IKEA bag covering the scaffolding.

As far as grand entrances go, we found this one particularly clever. Did they do it on purpose? We like to think so.

In this week’s newsletter Ariane Julia, Senior Associate in the Consumer team gives her thoughts on why this bold move is so effective.

Practical and sentimental 

That distinctive blue and very specific type of plastic already carries immensely cost-effective brand visibility when used daily in home as laundry basket or shopping bags (almost half of all Brits have one at home). 

Whilst invented not only to increase in-store purchase but also with visibility in mind, draping meters worth of scaffolding in said blue plastic announced IKEA’s arrival to the West End with little room for brand misattribution.

Plastic isn’t really a good look in the current environmental crisis but the IKEA bag being so sturdy and therefore reusable, they may well get away with it. After all, IKEA bags’ practicality is so iconic that they inspired a four-figure tote bag from Balenciaga in 2017.

 But IKEA bags are not just practical. They hold an oddly sentimental place in our lives. They remind us of the oh-so-stressful, yet somehow fun visits to IKEA stores with your family, then as students or young professionals furnishing one’s first box room or going to pick items for your kids. In common with many other brands navigating the current societal uncertainty, IKEA’s store front taps into the emotional power of nostalgia.

 A consistent brand

 Leveraging a brand asset that doesn’t need any accompanying slogan or marketing imagery isn’t something a brand can do if its brand assets are shifting with every new Marketing Director hired. IKEA’s cleverness here has been sticking to what they do well for decades which now allows them to take a calculated risk of such bold high street marketing. 

 The bags are also a great expression for IKEA’s overarching role in people’s lives, as the number one reliable and affordable home furnishing products retailer. Although more associated with the utilitarian than the glamourous, IKEA allows many to furnish and decorate their homes even in tricky economic times.

 And what are IKEA bags if not a metaphor for this role for consumers? The brand’s perceived values being practicality, unpretentiousness and democracy; all carried in an oh-so recognisable sturdy blue bag that most can afford. Relatable to all, even perhaps Rishi Sunak in full Prada probably carried an IKEA bag in his time.

 Was investing in such a store the right move for IKEA? Only time will tell, but they’ve certainly done it in style. 

 If you’d like Incite’s help to sort your blue bags from your questionable hot dogs, get in touch today