IKEA 25th Anniversary
IKEA 25TH ANNIVERSARY
Recently, more attention is paid to public relations rather than advertising. A good public relations plan can help improve relations with media and stakeholders of a company. The 25th anniversary of IKEA in UK is an excellent opportunity to promote values of the Company and improve public relations. The aim of this public relations campaign is to strengthen positive image of the Company, increase sustainability awareness, and increase sales of furniture.
IKEA Company in UK is a Swedish-based Company founded in 1987. The Company offers a wide range of functional home furniture at low prices. Currently, the Company operates in more than 40 countries of the world having 18 stores in UK. The Company sells the products with the help of physical and on-line stores (Tengblad, 2002). The products of the Company are oriented on the middle- to low-income customers. The main customers of the Company are families with children, first home owners, and students. IKEA explores strategy of sustainable innovation that contributes to the growth of its business (IKEA, 2012).
Internal and External Factors
For the purposes of situation analysis and for identification of the current position of IKEA, SWOT analysis can be used (Delgado, 2012). SWOT analysis is attached in the Appendix 1. According to the SWOT analysis, public relations campaign of IKEA should address the issue of increasing sustainability awareness (Maloney, 2006).
Furniture retail sector in UK experiences challenges resulted from decline in housing market. Also, consumers’ income was pressured by the UK government measures that caused increase in inflation and low growth of salaries and wages (Mason, 2012). Thus, consumers started to be cautious in spending money on home furnishing. Sales growth and profit margins were pressed by these factors. Still, the Company is planning to open more stores in the long-term period. It is more realistic for the Company to achieve growth using existing store network and website taking into account the current situation (IKEA, 2012).
Hierarchy of Effect
Economic slowdown issued several challenges to IKEA including how to convince the customers to invest in their homes and increase the number of returning customers. The model of hierarchy-of-effects is proposed to be used to resolve these issues (Gregory, 2004). The effects of advertising according to the model are represented in the Table 1. The model explains relation between the following categories of customers:
The new public relations campaign of IKEA will be focused on the development of conviction and desire to purchase the product. Purchasing the product is the final step when the Company encourages customers to make final decision (Center, Jackson, Smith and Stansberry, 2008).
Setting Campaign Objectives
Before a public relations campaign started, it is crucially important to do situation analysis, define objectives of the public relations campaign, define publics that are to be addressed, select media for advertising the campaign, define the budget for the campaign, and outline implementation and control processes (Egan and Jefkins, 2004).
Strategic planning of public relations campaign consists of four phases, namely: awareness, formulation, implementation, and evaluation (Broom, 2009; Tench and Yeomans, 2009).
The public relations campaign must pursue cognitive, affective, and conative objectives outlined in the Table 2 (Cutlip, Center and Broom, 2006).
Thus, the objectives of the proposed public relations campaign for IKEA are: use the event of 25th Anniversary of IKEA to promote sustainable production and to establish strong relationships with customers, community members, and employees (Pople and Turnbull, 2012).
The interest to environmental problems is increasing. Therefore, the public relations campaign should emphasize social responsibility and environmental concerns (Gregory, 2000). The awareness of the public can be increased with the help of scale action. The effect of the campaign will be evaluated with the help of key informants and online resources (Phillips and Yong, 2009).
According to the situational theory of publics, publics are divided into four categories, namely: latent, aware, active, and apathetic publics. Active publics are subdivided into single-issue, hot-issue, and all-issue publics. The main focus of the campaign will be on the group of aware publics. Also, conducting a survey of targeted publics will help develop more precise classification of publics. Aware public is characterised by strong awareness of the brand, but lack the motivation to demonstrate awareness (Oliver, 2004).
The main target of the public relations campaign is to motivate aware public to become active public so they could demonstrate their awareness of the brand sustainability. The campaign should target all subgroups concerned about environmental protection. Apathetic public will be communicated as well (Theaker, 2012).
The segmentation by geographic is important since the action planned will be large-scaled involving all 18 IKEA stores in UK. The segmentation by demographics will help identify age, gender, and income of potential public (Sriramesh, 2009). Thus, IKEA traditionally targets middle-aged individuals having children, first time homeowners, and students who are satisfied with medium quality and simple design solutions. Prioritization of efforts is outlined in the Table 4. In the Appendix 4 Power & Interest Matrix (Johnson and Scholes, 2002 cited by Pople and Turnbull, 2012) can be seen.
Tools of PR Strategy
The celebration of the 25th anniversary of IKEA will be used as the main tool of promoting the Company sustainability (Lecture 4). The period of the action is one month. The action is supposed to emphasize sustainability of production aiming to acquire more customers and to encourage loyal customers to buy from IKEA during economic hardships. Within the framework of the action a competition will be organized. It will make the event outstanding and unforgettable because encouraging people to participate in the event will develop a feeling of unity. Also, taking part in the competition will enhance a feeling of belonging to a certain group of people. Making Earth greener is a very noble goal that is supposed to evoke inmost feelings of target publics. Below Gantt chart for the project can be seen in the Table 6.
Recommended PR Strategy
Recently, the sales of the Company declined due to the crisis of EU economy. The decline in sales is connected with maturity of some ranges of the products. The best PR policy will be to develop a strategy addressed the following issues:
- marketing communication;
- financial public relations;
- internal communication;
- community relations or public affairs (Smith, 2008).
With regard to the situational analysis of the Company, the main emphasis should be made on the following areas:
- corporate social responsibility;
- community projects;
- educational support;
- Employee volunteering (Zappala and Carden, 2010).
Recently, a lot of attention is recently paid to social responsibility and ethical issues of furniture producers. IKEA is known for its scale public relations campaigns related green issues. Thus, the public relations campaign will emphasize green issues and sustainability (L’Etang and Pieszka, 2006). The main objective of this public relations strategy is to announce sustainability in production of IKEA furniture and emphasize social responsibility thus strengthening IKEA reputation (Gaines-Ross, 2008; Gibson, Gonzales and Casteenon, 2006).
Using Eco-Friendly Celebrities
According to Harnish (2012), celebrities can create fame for brand and have a powerful amplifying and accelerating effect on people’s minds. Famous actress Gwyneth Paltrow is known for her firm position regarding green issues. She will be invited to participate in planting greenery in UK as she is in the list of the most eco-friendly stars (Maire Caire, 2008). According to Reynolds (2013), George Clooney had become a brand ambassador of Nespresso. Gwyneth Paltrow could become a brand ambassador of IKEA showing her public spiritedness regarding green issues. It would contribute to both the image of the Company, and to her own image. Gadsby (2010) stated that using celebrities in advertising play a significant role because in semiotics celebrities symbolize another “better” world for average consumers. An example of celebrity will motivate average customers to be more eco-friendly, and, what is more important, to memorize eco-friendly Company and its products. As payment for her participation Gwyneth Paltrow will be proposed to invest in sustainable project of her choice.
A special program will be launched for the employees and their family members. There will be a limited edition of eco-friendly cardboard cameras released during the whole period of the action. The 4.13 x 2.56-inch camera will be used to promote the action, make photos of winners, and to depict the process of planting trees to start a newspaper related this action. It would help unite the IKEA team and stimulate interpersonal communication. The purpose is to make 2,5k photos taken by the cameras to design the event (Crisp, 2012).
In order to attract the media attention, a furniture cake will be used. A huge cake will be given to each participant by way of award. The cake will consist of tiny chairs, tables, and other pieces of furniture produced by IKEA. The cake will symbolize participation in the process of making a small contribution that can change global things (“Hampshire wildlife trust's giant birthday bird cake”, 2010).
General Guidelines of the Campaign
The new public relations campaign that was developed in this paper relates to the 25th anniversary of IKEA in UK and aims to promote production sustainability positive image of the Company. The main tool of public relations strategy is the event – the 25th anniversary of the Company. For the purposes of event evaluation Macnamara’s model was used.
Appendix 1 SWOT Analysis of IKEA public relations plan
Appendix 2 Hierarchy-of-Effects Model
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