Once you’ve become the biggest coatings company in the world, it doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels and admire the scenery from your position at the pinnacle of the industry.
Far from it. Because in order to strengthen and consolidate that position—and keep one step ahead of the competition—you not only have to continually develop innovative products, but you also have to devise new ways of reaching and connecting with potential customers.
For Akzo Nobel’s Decorative Coatings Europe (DCE) business, co-branding is just one of the highly effective marketing initiatives which are proving highly successful in the never-ending quest to introduce people all over the world to their inspirational range of products.
Partners come in all shapes and sizes of course, but when they’re as big as home furnishing giants IKEA, your audience of potential customers is going to be huge. In fact, according to recent figures, IKEA attracted a massive 365 million customers to its 200-plus stores worldwide last year, and with another 20 stores scheduled to open in 2005, that number is only going to increase.
it should come as no surprise that DCE has already established close relations with the Swedish-based company, a relationship which began in Norway and is now starting to spread across Europe.
It all began when DCE’s KEY magazine was made available in IKEA’s stores in Norway. Links were then developed by DCE in Sweden, while the Belgian business has also hooked up with the furnishing giant, paving the way for DCE businesses in a number of other European countries to follow suit.
“It’s a great opportunity,” explains Lidija Dozic of DCE in Sweden. “What IKEA is interested in is that we help them in creating or providing tools to assist their consumers in using color. In turn, we can promote our colors in an inspirational environment which is visited by thousands of customers every day.
She goes on: “DCE in Norway came up with the idea of distributing KEY magazine via IKEA, but we thought of painting the walls of their in-store room sets and linking the colors used to our brands by displaying our logos on the walls.”
Promotional stands were also photographed for IKEA’s product catalogue, the world’s widest distributed publication, with 145 million copies having been published last year, in 48 editions and 25 languages.
What happens is if anyone is interested in painting their own walls in one of the colors used in the store, or in the catalogue, they can obtain further information by contacting IKEA personnel (who are trained by DCE in the use of color) or by visiting IKEA’s website.
Over in Belgium, the recently launched partnership is starting to blossom, although the cooperation between the two companies is still in its relatively early stages. “IKEA is very interested and committed because we share a common vision and ambition—to help people create comfortable and pleasant dwellings by providing them with interior design choices in furniture and color,” says Patrice Vekemans, marketing manager of DCE Retail in Belgium.
Someone who plays an important role in all of this is Per Nimer, head of DCE’s aesthetic department in Malmö, Sweden, who sets up training sessions in the use of color and paint for IKEA staff members. “I distinguish three steps in achieving the objective to create more awareness for our brands and products,” he explains. “The first step is to have workshops for IKEA shop floor personnel.
“Secondly, we have created special color training sessions for IKEA decorators. These are people who visit customers on a daily basis to provide them with advice on how to organize their home interiors. They also use our color cards as a tool.”
The third element is a program designed especially for the managers of these decorators. A three-day brainstorming session is held in which color and patterns are discussed, which ultimately results in a book containing colors and patterns for each branch in a country. IKEA personnel then use this book as a tool to give advice to customers.
Taking Belgium as an example, the resultant exposure for DCE’s products is excellent. All room sets in the country’s IKEA stores that are coated with the company’s Levis® paint now have a billboard indicating which products are used, where to get information and the address of the Levis website.
“Having the color and pattern book available fits in perfectly with IKEA’s ambition to have the tools that can help their customers,” adds Vekemans. “So it can strengthen our bond even more. And, as IKEA is operating in so many countries, this can mean more than just success for DCE. “Also, nearly all Belgians go to IKEA, maybe that’s the case in lots of countries. So the impact for us is enormous.”
(Published: March 4, 2005)