Monday, February 07, 2011

Dumbing down IKEA


I dislike shopping, almost any kind of shopping, but when I first set foot in an IKEA big box some 20 years ago it was a pleasant surprise. I'd never seen anything like the Swedish-based store, with Euro-stylish furnishings at sane prices.

I've been back to various IKEA locations over the years, but the charm gradually wore off, and this past weekend it was a distinctively sour experience. I realized that the store has gradually been going downmarket. The designs are now bland and unoriginal. Colors and fabric patterns tend toward harsh reds and blacks or "neutral" hues like beige and off-white. Timeless Dorm Room.

The environment has been degraded, too, with continuous rock music to remind shoppers of what a thrill it is to buy.
A multi-national marketer like IKEA doesn't go in for basic changes by accident. Doubtless management has computer programs that tell them the exact profit they're making on everything they sell in a given unit of time. Something has caused IKEA to devolve from stylish to blah (in its American branches, anyway -- maybe they're different in other countries).


I think I figured it out, by observing the clientele. IKEA used to see its customers as middle class, college-educated; it offered the kind of goods that would appeal to that demographic. This weekend, though, a large percentage of the shoppers were ethnic minorities (or, collectively, majority minority), rounded out with the kind of whites who wear baseball caps and  "message" sweaters. About a quarter of the hunter-gatherers were speaking Spanish.

IKEA knows what it's doing. It's responding to the changes that our rulers have forced on us, rebranding itself for a Third World America. The middle class that IKEA once pitched to is shrinking, with its back to the wall, and not in a mood for spending. Sociologically, IKEA is now a "cool" dollar store.



Anonymous said...

Malls, movie theatres, theme parks are all dying places for middle class white people.


Rollory said...

The one thing I bought from Ikea was a bed. Turned out to be the worst attempt at a night's sleep I'd ever had; the formaldehyde fumes from the wood aggregate something-or-other they used to make it had me suffering hay-fever-like symptoms all night. The best I could do that week was to go sleep on the carpet in a corner of the living room. I took it back; they gave me my money back for the bed but would only accept an exchange of mattresses. As I had paid cash, I couldn't dispute the charges, but I left the mattress on their front steps and have never bought anything there since.

Rick Darby said...


I don't know anything about theme parks, but I suspect malls and movie theaters are gradually becoming venues mainly for the underclass. The rich and what is left of the middle class are much more wired, and get their entertainment and do a lot of their shopping through the internet -- both a cause and an effect of the boorishness encroaching on public spaces.


My impression is that quality control at IKEA is abysmal. Fortunately I've never bought any major furniture there, but I've gotten several duff reading lamps. Used to be, their pitch was the "European" design flair, which they thought would cover a multitude of manufacturing sins. Now that most of their stuff isn't much different from Walmart's, IKEA is trading purely on its image.

Maria said...

I don't know anything about theme parks, but I suspect malls and movie theaters are gradually becoming venues mainly for the underclass.

You can add the great American County Fair to that list, especially in the more "enriched" states.

Anonymous said...

Yes, County Fairs are also on the list. It pains me to say it, but clearly much of the lower white class is becoming "blackened" via their behaviour and most importantly their breeding with various 3rd world peoples (yes, I include American Blacks in that class, look at any black run city, county, etc.). I really don't know what hope is for them.

Ilíon said...

"... Sociologically, IKEA is now a "cool" dollar store."