IKEA’s “Online Flea Market”? Brilliant!

Have you ever whispered to yourself “what a waste” when you toss out some of the furnitures from IKEA? I am not sure about you, but this resonate with me very much because as an international student, IKEA is on the top of my list when it comes to furniture shopping – it’s relatively cheap, one-stop shopping, with great service. Also, I think it’s how it brands itself – furnitures that are tasteful but aren’t designed to last long. At the end when I need to move to a new place or get back to my country, eventually I have to throw these fully functioning furnitures away. That has been such a waste, until now.

I was browsing on the internet the other day and came across IKEA’s newest campaign: The Second-Hand Campaign (click to look at the video introduction). This intrigued my interests, because I have always been wondering why IKEA never realize the value of creating a platform for people to resell their IKEA products. Gladly, they finally took some actions. I went afterwards to do some research. This campaign was launched last week, and the first batch of consumers were 50 Norwegian customers. IKEA retrieved their used furnitures, photographed them and put them in the ads next to the brand new ones. It looks just like this one.

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The reason why I found this campaign very brilliant, is how it hits three birds with a stone. First of all, it is such a great way to build its image as a consumer-friendly brand by providing such a platform. Secondly, it adds a layer of entertaining to the new ads, which I believe will contribute to their marketing performance. And it is an integrated campaign, as it encourages people to visit their websites and social media pages. Thirdly, it brings attention to their new products, and audience can actually see what that piece of furniture will look like after an amount of time.


However, while I am complimenting the creativity of the campaign, I also have some concerns. You may notice that on the ad, besides the furniture, the slogan, the logo, the price, there is something else. Do you see the chain of numbers on the ad? That’s the used-furniture owner’s contact number. According to a report, all the furnitures from these 50 consumers were successfully sold after the ads were posted on websites, magazines and TV, and the phone number on the ads were the major way for communication.

While I was amazed by the consumers’ courage to expose their personal contact information, I was thinking if I were one of the consumers, I probably would feel very uncomfortable exposing myself like that. I might be too sensitive here, but still it’s a potential disturbance in the future, as it says something about me. Maybe I am too insecure about my information, but I am very curious to see how many people are willing to do that and how does this model work. I don’t know if IKEA charges them for advertising on their behalf, or if IKEA subtracts a certain percentage of the amount of the deal if it gets made. What do you think? Will you be comfortable about this, and what do you think of the whole campaign?

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7 Responses to IKEA’s “Online Flea Market”? Brilliant!

  1. plama says:

    I found the second-hand campaign idea very interesting and useful. Being an international student, I think it would be worthy to try selling the IKEA products. The strategy to limit the selling time only on Sundays between 11 am to 5pm has represented the characteristics of actual flea market and conducting it virtually will definitely expose to larger audiences. Regarding giving the phone number, I think I would be fine with it. It is quite personal information but even through other selling platforms, I will be sharing my personal information. I look forward for the online flea market in USA.

  2. Fangya Li says:

    I think the idea of this campaign is quite creative and effective in promoting Ikea as a company who cares about sustainability. However, I have some doubts about its practicability. Only 50 consumers were selected to advertise their old furniture during the first week of this campaign. Though the campaign will last for eight weeks (I found this information online), how many consumers it can help in total? Do buyers have to call the sellers to check for their home addresses each time if they are interested in something because the ads do not provide any information on that? I think it would be easier if Ikea also build an online forum for Ikea users to sell their old furniture with detailed information provided directly. By the way, it is quite uncomfortable for me to provide my phone number in print ads, but it’s okay for me to share my number in online forums. Probably the reason is that I think print ads can be seen by anyone who passes by the ads randomly. And online forums are for people with similar interests and good intentions.

  3. wanyang says:

    As an international student, I found the idea of second-hand furniture flea market is very intriguing to me. In fact, a large number of customers have the demand and interest in purchasing used furniture. But there is no well-regulated commerce platform that consumers can trust. IKEA is discovering this market blank and staying one step ahead of their competitors by initiating online flea market. In this regard, IKEA is not only positioning itself as a furniture seller ,but also a thoughtful problem solver who truly cares their consumers. In general, the campaign is really effective in building positive brand impressions among consumers. However, I still have some privacy concerns for revealing the contact number directly on the ads. Although it is the efficient way to connect buyers and sellers, I still feel uncomfortable to reveal my personal contact number and name in the public. I agree with the idea that Fangya proposed of building online forum. IKEA may also consider to create a website just for used-furniture exchange.

  4. Allison Churchman says:

    This is very interesting and, to be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about this. Like you said, I would not be comfortable giving out my phone number for campaign advertisements. I understand that it makes the campaign feel more personable, but it is just strange that some random person’s contact information in listed on the posters. Although this is strange to me, it is actually not the thing that makes me uneasy about this campaign. I’ve bought IKEA furniture before because it’s cheap and a great alternative when you next something short-term; however, I’m not so sure IKEA furniture will be great as second-head. When something is cheap, we all expect that it wouldn’t last for a long time, so I guess I just don’t see the point of buying used, cheap furniture. It will be interesting to see how this campaign works for IKEA and if people are willing to purchase something second-head.

  5. Moran Pei says:

    First of fall, I wish my furnitures would have somewhere to go after I graduate. And about this campaign, it feels like a marketing campaign for IKEA’s new furnitures rather than a campaign for second-hand furnitures. I really doubt the reason for moving a sofa all the way back to the shop and reselling it at only $150. Will this price cover the shipping cost? So I guess IKEA doesn’t care about the sales of these second-hand furnitures at all, and what they are doing is just branding and marketing. In regard to that phone number on the poster, I guess it is because the campaign was launched in Norway–a underpopulated country, meaning less unwanted calls than other countries. The same thing will never happen in America or China, or your phone will keep ringing 24 hours a day.

  6. Siyu says:

    Same here! My solution for the old IKEA furniture is to sell them to the new students, since I’ve only been using them for 1 year. As the this campaign, I think it has a relatively good “big idea” but the execution is not very impressive. Like Fangya said, instead of posting ads, IKEA can create a forum (though I believe there are already many unofficial ones) for selling second-handed products.

  7. Lilian Mak says:

    I think it is a great solution especially for international students like us. Most students like to buy their furnitures at IKEA because it has affordable prices with decent quality. However, it has always been annoying to resell our furnitures when we leave the country. It is great for IKEA to initiate the second hand market but I personally would not like to give out my personal number unless its a google voice number that I don’t really use. I would rather give out one of my online social media accounts as a contact rather than my phone number.