It took 12 years, but IKEA has finally opened its first store in India in Hyderabad. The Swedish furniture maker is known for its affordable and aesthetic designs worldwide. But will its DIY-ethos work in India, a country known for hiring carpenters and electricians to fix the smallest problems? Simply put, ‘do it yourself’ is not something we do in India. Instead, we like people doing things for us. To solve that problem, IKEA is offering assemblage solutions to buyers. They’ve tied up with an online furniture store, UrbanClap to help shoppers assemble their furniture. They will also hire 150 in-house assemblers to help customers.
IKEA’s sprawling 4,00,000 sq ft store filled with furniture and knick-knacks which have its trademark Scandinavian design at a very competitive price is giving cold feet to the Nampally furniture market in Hyderabad, according to reports. The Nampally market produces second-hand furniture, and whether or not their clientele will shift to IKEA is unsure. But IKEA has priced many products as low as Rs 200 to attract the thrifty Indian buyer. Interestingly, IKEA will be sourcing 20% of their products from local vendors but they haven’t yet announced which products these are. Also, in the decade it took IKEA to enter the Indian market, quite a few startups today offer quirky designs and at home delivery for furniture – such as Urban Ladder, Not So Shabby and others.
You can check out some of the trademark designs here.
IKEA officials reportedly visited over 1000 homes of various sizes belonging to different income groups to understand the needs and aspirations of Indians. They’ve designed 2000 products to suit Indian needs. They’ve made shelves lower and changed products with mini-legs as people sweep and mop their homes in India and might not buy furniture which they can’t clean under. Even the famous IKEA restaurant menu has been tweaked to meet Indian tastes. Fifty per cent of the menu is now made up of Indian and Hyderabadi cuisine. The beef and pork in the famous Swedish meatballs have been replaced with chicken and now shares space with biryanis, dal makhani and samosas, a plate of which is affordably priced at Rs 10.
IKEA has definitely realised that the way to the Indian buyer’s heart and stomach is by providing sasta (cheap) and tikaao (durable) furniture and food. Let’s see whether it rules the interiors of Indian homes soon.