Parsley, and the IKEA Brand

23Feb12

On an unusually sunny weekday afternoon, I visited my local IKEA to get some supplies to organize my office. I was hungry, so I stopped by the cafe. After scanning the menus with close-up photos of various Swedish gourmet, I settled on a $2.99 meatball combo that included ten meatballs, fries, a dab of Lingonberry relish and a small strand of parsley. As I sat by one of seats by the window, bathing in the winter sun, looking at the food in front of me and feeling content, I noticed this small strand of parsley. OK, the truth is, I was stuffing fries in my mouth. I was hungry!

IKEA meatball dish for $ 2.99

Well, anyway. I noticed the little strand of parsley and I started to think: what was the point of adding this piece of herb on the dish? Hardly anyone was going to eat it. Yes, I know parsley is not expensive. But do you know how many meatball dishes IKEA sell? The minute overhead added by this small piece of parsley could be HUGE! Obviously, the parsley is for garnish. But garnish for a $2.99 meal? Do you expect your $8.99 McD meal to come on a silver platter with a side of flower? I surely didn’t!

At this point, I realized and understood how successful IKEA is in implementing their brand by developing a cohesive, 360-degree user experience. It dawned on me that the meals at IKEA (besides at the bistro, which is meant to be quick and cheap) are served on proper flatware, eaten with proper cutlery, at proper, well-lite dining areas. I noticed for the first time today that plates and cutlery for kids were provided to the patrons. With the famous kids’ area, it is for sure that IKEA welcomes parents with small children. If the kids are happy, the parents are happy, right?

Spacious, well-lite dining area

Kids cutlery

This dining experience told me that, at IKEA, even a $2.99 dish of meatballs was a gourmet, satisfying, enjoyable meal. It brought me right to the core of IKEA’s vision: “To create a better everyday life for the many people.” After consuming my delicious lunch, I felt empowered to better my life by getting my room better organized (and I did!).

Did that strand of parsley cause me to spend more at IKEA? Did it convert me from a hater to lover? Probably not. But it was these tiny details and small touches that shapes my impression of IKEA, and causes me to shop here again and again. I want to give kudos to whoever decides and insists on making that little piece of garnish part of the “standard” 10-piece meatball combo. Too many people think such details don’t have any value so they’d eliminate them to cut cost. I sincerely wish more people would think like the management at IKEA and see the purpose in the little parsley.

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