Story at a glance

  • Swedish furniture giant IKEA is known for its accessible design and in-store experience, which takes customers through various rooms set up like homes.
  • After the coronavirus pandemic pushed much of its sales online, the company is fully embracing its digital future.
  • This year marks the final edition of its catalog, which is accompanied by an audio guide in the form of a podcast.

Your co-worker, that one friend from high school, your ex who just moved back in with their parents — everyone has a podcast these days. Now, so does your favorite Swedish furniture giant. 

Yes, Ikea has a podcast series, although you won’t find any sponsored content here. In fact, all of the content in "The IKEA Audio Catalog" comes straight from its own stores. Over 13 episodes (not including the prologue), each between 10 and 20 minutes long, the podcast takes listeners on an auditory tour through the furnished homes of six families, with how-to guides and to-do lists to boot. 

Why? 


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“We know that by now you've probably binged through every possible podcast, audio book and best of 2020 playlist there is,” says the narrator, a cheerful, female voice, in the introductory episode. “So maybe you could use some new soothing sounds to put on while we all continue waiting for normal life to get back to, yeah, normal.” 

 

 

For the most part, the podcast is an accessible version of Ikea’s latest catalog, especially for consumers with visual impairments, taking listeners page by page through the furniture company’s inventory. 

"Turning the page with our beloved catalog is in fact a natural process since media consumption and customer behaviors have changed," Konrad Grüss, an Ikea executive, says in a statement. "In order to reach and interact with the many people, we will keep inspiring with our home furnishing solutions in new ways."


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It also marks a new direction for the company, which is ditching the catalog entirely as the company looks towards the arrival of a more digital future hastened by the coronavirus pandemic. 

“We are not starting from scratch. We have been transforming many aspects of how to reach and interact with our customers, and the work continues to find new ways to amplify unique IKEA home furnishing knowledge, products and solutions in the best possible way - to inspire the many people through new ways, channels and formats,” says Grüss.

Online retail sales increased by 45 percent worldwide over the past year, according to the company, with many customers under stay-at-home orders adapting to sudden lifestyle changes. The 2021 edition, marking the catalog’s 70th edition, is designed more like a handbook and features five homes created by IKEA designers from the U.S., Germany, Portugal, Japan and Switzerland in addition to those designed by the company's main design team. 

“At a time when so much more of life is happening at home, this year’s catalog goes one step further and is filled with even more inspiration and tips to make a big impact. Whether you’re seeking to be more well-rested, more planet-friendly or more organized, the catalog can help you get there with simple solutions like an ergonomic pillow, air purifying curtains or a desk for your new at-home office,” says Shideh Hashemi, country marketing manager for Ikea U.S., in a statement


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Published on Mar 12, 2021