Death to the much loved Ikea’s bookbook™

I kid you not. Getting my hands on this yearly tome is like opening a Christmas gift that lasts for months. Sadly, Ikea’s legendary catalog will no longer be dropped in our mailboxes.

After 70 years, the Swedish furniture retailer said that the 2021 catalog it published in October would be it’s last, nailing the coffin on the central content marketing tool Ikea has used to great success.

In a statement, Ikea cited declining use of the catalog and the need for a more modern way to showcase its wares to customers.

Wait, what? Declining use? Modern way to showcase its wares?. What could be more satisfying than to leisurely flip the pages for ideas, dog-ear it for future reference, scrutinizing the small print description. And it beats an iPad with an always-on mode!

Remember this bookbook™ ad?

The first Ikea catalog was released in Swedish in 1951, featuring the MK Wing Chair, and was sent to 285,000 addresses in southern Sweden. At its peak, only four years ago, the Ikea catalog was sent to 200 million homes in 50 markets and in 32 languages. But it only produced 40 million of them this year.

“Turning the page with our beloved catalog is in fact a natural process since media consumption and customer behaviors have changed,” said Konrad Grüss, a managing director at the retailer’s worldwide franchisor, Inter Ikea Systems, in a statement.

Admittedly, Grüss added that the decision was “emotional but rational”.

I hear him too.

Consumers’ attitudes, behaviors, and purchasing habits are changing and many of these new ways will remain post-pandemic. People are shopping and embracing digital commerce. In a sign of things to come, Instagram has launched shopping-related updates to the Instagram app and the latest being in Reels (Instagram’s competition to TikTok) where creators and businesses will be able to tag products when they create Reels. The short-form videos now have their own tab on Instagram.

Ikea is now exploring other ways of translating the content in the catalog into new formats and channels, including social media, apps, and the Ikea website.

In 2017, IKEA Place app was launched to provide a composite view for the brand. From the customer’s point of view, it’s really helpful for a customer to only seeing the catalog and couldn’t imagine how the furniture will look and fit in their homes. While the user experience is still sketchy at best, it points the direction to where things are headed for the company.

Embracing the digital commerce space meant that Ikea will continue to innovate user experiences it has done in the past. In keeping with its value proposition “to create a better everyday life for the many people”, I believe Ikea will stay true to this purpose while making it seamless to virtually experience their product and make a purchase.

Still, nothing beats heading down to the imposing blue mecca because of IKEA’s ability to engage in-store experiences, compelling, impish Swedish designs, and domain-changing storage ideas. Let’s look forward to this being translated virtually — a mammoth task but one which can be groundbreaking.

For the die-hard fans of the Ikea catalog, Ikea says it will commemorate it with a book launching in the autumn of 2021. I’m saying cheers to that!



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store

Designing a better world through the lens of digital marketing and creatives. When I am not churning ideas, you find me running on the trails.