Thursday, February 10, 2011

Home Depot loses, IKEA wins; why? - Helen Wang

NANJING, CHINA - AUGUST 28:  Customers wait to...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Home Depot announced the closure of outlets, a stiff reminder that life can be tough, even in a fast growing Chinese market. But what is IKEA doing better, wonders Helen Wang in Forbes, as they are opening more outlets. What lessons can be learned?
In the last fifteen years, home ownership has gone from practically zero to about 70 percent. However, many people have little sense of how to furnish or decorate a home. They are very eager to learn from the West. This is one of the reasons that IKEA is very popular in China. Their Western-style showrooms provide model bedrooms, dining rooms, and family rooms showing how to furnish them. Their stylish and functional modern furniture is particularly appealing to young couples...
Three lessons Helen Wang has:
    Wang_Helen_HiRes_black_MG_1708Helen Wang via Flickr
  • Chinese consumers need to be educated as they have no role models. They are eager to learn but they need guidance. Companies that invest in educating the market can expect to reap handsome rewards.
  • Pay attention to local customers’ preferences. For example, the kitchen is usually small and considered secondary in a Chinese home. Chinese cooking usually blackens the kitchen with soot and grease and is the domain of an ayi, or household helper, who cooks for the family.
  • Most Chinese homeowners live in condominiums rather single family homes. They do not have a garage that can store tools and ladders. A more appealing package would be pre-designed interiors with installation included.

Helen Wang is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. When you need her at your meeting or conference, do get in touch.
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