What did you learn from these experiences?
“One key thing is that to gain acceptance, we have to communicate our intentions clearly to all the relevant stakeholders; to prove that the IKEA brand is not after short term profit, but genuinely interested in investing in the country long term.
“Specifically, in South Korea, we learnt not to underestimate the forces working against us. We have to take people’s fears seriously and build relationships to combat them. In India, we applied this lesson and succeeded in positioning ourselves as a good neighbour – a company that would make a genuine contribution to society.
“We also learnt that face-to-face meetings are a great way to promote the IKEA brand prior to a store launch. The small meeting points we set up in malls in Seoul and Hyderabad received 300 000 and 250 000 visitors respectively. And everyone who signed up for IKEA Family was invited to a home furnishing workshop, and these were also a hit.”
And the key learning was?
“The more thoroughly we prepare, the better it goes. It’s not enough to respect and accept a country; you have to love it and embrace its values!”