Ikea offers sneak preview

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Ikea offers sneak preview

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Ulf Smedberg

Ulf Smedberg, the country marketing manager of Ikea Korea, looked excited yesterday as he walked around the story room of the Sweden-based home furnishing brand at 915 Industry Gallery in Sinsa-dong, southern Seoul. Inside the story room, called “Hej Home!” were Korean members of his team.

“This story room is the kickoff of our brand launch,” Smedberg told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “Finally, we can show it to the market, and we are eager to do that.”

The opening of the story room, where consumers can see such Ikea products as furniture and interior accessories, comes months ahead of the opening of its first Korean store in Gwangmyeong, western Gyeonggi, in December. The store will be located and opened on a 78,000-square-meter (19-acre) site.

“‘Hej Home’ [which means ‘Welcome Home’ in Swedish] is an opportunity for you to experience Ikea, touch and feel and get a taste of what Ikea is,” he said. “And of course we will have much more when we open the store, up to 10,000 items, so this is just to give you a glimpse of what it can be.”

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Ikea merchandise is on display at “Hej Home!” at 915 Industry Gallery in Gangnam, southern Seoul.

Smedberg also talked about the company’s target group in the Korean market.

“It’s for many people, no matter what the size of your wallet - thin or thick - or what your tastes, interests or needs are,” he said. “We also have a lot of solutions for families with children.

“Our mission is to always have lower prices. We have a combination of low price, great design, high quality and sustainability to cater for the benefits.”

For the Korean market in particular, Smedberg said Ikea has done its research to understand life in Korean homes, what the needs of consumers are and what solutions Ikea can offer.

It has been about two years since Smedberg arrived in Korea to prepare for the store’s opening.

He also said the entrance of Ikea into the Korean market will benefit small players that are currently expressing concerns that their share in the market will be snatched by the huge multinational home furnishing brand.

“We very much believe that Ikea coming to Korea will actually help the home furnishing business to grow,” he said. “So the interest will go up and it will benefit them.”

Meanwhile, Ikea Korea is expected to turn more aggressive in its marketing activities to attract Korean consumers.

“We’ll have several occasions when you will be introduced to our products,” said Smedberg, who offered no specifics.

As for now, the story room will be open inside the 915 Industry Gallery from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday through March 30. There is no charge for admission.

Visitors can familiarize themselves with Ikea’s concept, vision and products. Items displayed inside the story room, however, are not for sale.

BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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