Ikea opens its largest store outside Sweden

Ads reflect Beijing's easy-going attitude

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BEIJING--Sweden's Ikea is capitalizing on the home improvement trend sweeping through China with an ad campaign promoting the mega-store it opened on April 12 in Beijing. With total floor space of 43,000 square meters, it is Ikea's largest showroom in the world outside Stockholm.

The "More to Love" campaign, created by Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, plays on the popularity of Ikea's previous store in Beijing, its most successful outlet in China.

Beijingers appreciate the brand's 'relaxed and down-to-earth personality, which fits nicely with the Beijing character," said Charles Sampson, the agency's Beijing-based CEO, China.

"In the store, you often see people having an afternoon nap on the beds or eating their lunch box sitting in the sofa dept. Unlike in other stores, Ikea encourages this, or at least does not discourage it."

Such behavior is referenced in ads that introduce the new store, such as ads showing a family asleep on a sofa while it is being carried by Ikea staff from the old store to the new one. Another shows a mother and daughter eating on an Ikea table on a rolling cart pushed by two movers, while a colleague carries an overweight Swedish chef.

The new Beijing store is the latest example of Ikea's aggressive expansion plans in China, a fast-growing do-it-yourself market. The home furnishing retailer is courting young consumers who are eagerly updating drab public housing flats, and increasingly newly-purchased apartments, with modern, colorful but inexpensive furniture.

Since Ikea entered China in 1998, it has also opened stores in Shanghai and, just last year, in Guangzhou, and is preparing to open its first outlet in Chengdu later this year. It hopes to have at least 10 stores open in China by 2010, in addition to its three factories in Beijing, Dalian and Shenzhen.
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