What's the secret behind IKEA's business success? Swedish meatballs? Perhaps. Those meatballs certainly are part of it. But there's something deeper. Something brilliant - yet fundamental to its business model - that keeps the company on top.
And that brilliant element is simplicity.
IKEA provides functional, well-designed furniture that is affordable and can serve the many. Plus, buyers assemble the furniture themselves.
Brilliance Point 1:
IKEA harnesses the scientifically proven fact that people are more attached to things they make themselves.
What else makes the IKEA brand so attractive?
In its marketing, the company creates funny, clever ads that make you like the brand.
Which brings me to Brilliance Point 2:
IKEA has created a brand that is greater than the sum of its products. When people buy IKEA, they buy the brand.
IKEA's recruiting strategy is another example of how the company harnesses the simplicity of its brand promise.
When opening its new Australian Mega Store last December, IKEA took these two core values and applied them to its recruiting strategy. The company needed to fill 100 positions and wanted a direct yet cost-effective approach to its recruitment process.
The solution? Place "Career Instructions" inside each of the company's signature flat-pack product boxes.
When customers opened their newly-purchased IKEA products, they had instructions on how to "assemble a future" with this highly successful Swedish company.
The outcome: 4,285 quality applications that resulted in 280 new hires.
Watch IKEA's Australian recruiting video:
Why this recruiting strategy is brilliant
1. IKEA Targets Job Candidates Who Love the Brand
Image Source: Consumer Council. org
IKEA reached out to people who already loved its brand. Even if none of the candidates had much experience in customer service, the chances of them being familiar, even passionate about the brand and its products would be somewhat guaranteed. They are after all, IKEA customers.
With this approach, recruiting becomes much simpler and more effective because job candidates are already familiar with the products and already buy into the company culture.
The initiative also says a lot about how much IKEA values its customers. By saying to customers "Work for me" IKEA demonstrated a genuine appreciation and value for the input of its customer-base in helping the company grow in the Australian market. IKEA managed to bridge the gap between business growth and customer relations, by actively involving its customers in building the company's future.
2. IKEA Utilizes Resources It Already Has
Image Source: Inhabitat
Aside from hiring a marketing agency to come up with the recruiting strategy, IKEA didn't need a huge media budget to post job offers in the local paper, and they didn't spend a penny on postage. Instead, the company made use of tools and resources it already had in order to attract candidates.
3. It's an Effective Retention Strategy
Moreover, by zoning in and calling out to its target market, IKEA was able to pre-qualify a high number of potential brand ambassadors as potential job candidates. Not only is hiring people who love and use your products great for the company, you are also more likely to retain employees that believe in the brand. Employees who actively "live the brand" create significant benefits for both the customers and the organization.
Engagement levels (which increase with an employee's attachment to the company) are a critical leading indicator of potential productivity and retention issues. When engagement is high, so are productivity, performance and financial return.
4. The Recruiting Strategy Aligns With IKEAS's Brand Image
Image Source: www.schmoozyfox.com
The best practice around ensuring your recruiting and retention strategies align to your brand is something Lizz Pellet - a renowned expert in organizational culture - extols as fundamental to ensuring you attract, retain and repel the right employees. That's because knowing "who you are, and who you are not" from a cultural perspective can help increase the ROI of your recruitment, performance and retention programs.
When people buy IKEA they buy (into) the brand. IKEA's identity is founded on a commitment to good, practical design at low prices. IKEA shoppers believe in these core values and are happy to invest in what they deem are products aligned to their purchasing values.
Utilizing what I call "the flat-pack approach" they managed to reinforce the value of one of their most historically significant innovations: flat-pack furniture. The ideas of flat-pack and IKEA are inseparable. Therefore, IKEA's decision to place job application instructions in its flat-pack product packaging, aligns seamlessly with the essence of the company's business strategy.
5. It's Fun
By making recruiting fun, IKEA reinforces itself as a "fun" brand that is also a fun company to work for. IKEA is different and innovative, with just the right amount of silly; the company is known for its light-hearted and funny approach to advertising.
From the retailer's "Start the car!" ad to its banned commercials, IKEA marketing is centered on getting an emotional reaction out of consumers rather than trying to hard sell products.
By merging its recruiting strategy with its fun and fair brand image, IKEA was able to achieve exponentially greater hiring results than if the company had taken a more traditional recruiting approach.
And with more and more Millennials joining the workforce, positioning itself as a fun, flexible, and transparent company helps to attract this generation to the brand.
What recruiters can learn from IKEA
Understand Your Target Market: Do exhaustive market research, conduct surveys and understand the core of your customers' habits and values.
Find out who is talking about you, what they're saying, and identify who the major influencers are (the key individuals that have influence over other potential customers). Once you have a true understanding of your target market, target the people who already endorse you.
Be a Magnet: The new business model is about pulling in business. People want to be seduced and enticed by brands. Use this mindset in your approach to recruiting. The key to success will be in how creatively and effectively your strategy is carried out.
Show Who You Are As A Company in the Way You Recruit: You are more likely to attract candidates that fit your company culture if your recruitment process is aligned with your brand's values.
Your core values should be ubiquitous throughout all divisions of the company. When your organization's culture is easy to identify, it's easier for others to identify with you.
What do you think about IKEA's recruitment campaign? Have you ever carried out a creative approach to recruitment? What were the results? How did it out work for you? We'd love to hear your story!