Ikea is good enough - power of instant furniture and relatively few choices

Today we've been shopping for furniture with my wife and it took lots of time... I mean really lots of time... I'm tired... and I'm the guy who usually likes going shopping. To furnish our apartment we decided to go to some really nice furniture shops and later we visited Ikea, the only multinational furniture powerhouse...


There is a very big difference between your purchase experience in Ikea and in the "traditional" design furniture stores (which are basically only expositions of a factory offer) - let's call them furniture boutiques.

1. Zillions of choices vs few choices

The traditional furniture boutiques have catalogues of endless fabrics and materials... you can have a bed in 10 sizes, tens of fabrics and each fabric can have tens of colors. This amounts to thousands of options! I'm not kidding you.

The best part - my wife literally almost killed me when after viewing 20+ samples of colors of a fabric she chose, she said to the salesman: "I wish you had more choice in colors... I can't find anything interesting in the choice you're giving me here"...

I mean, really? I'm a guy, I can only understand 16 colors... like Microsoft Windows 95 default settings. You give my wife a batch of 20 different colors and she wants more options.

In Ikea - you have a choice of 2-5 colors or fabrics. That's it. OK, in the Kitchen department there are like 10 fabrics maybe... but the rest of the store? Only a few. And sometimes a piece of furniture comes in one color and that's it. You just can't go wrong.

2. Delivery time 2-3 months vs instantly

This got me really confused. We're in the recession right now, right? Well then why oh why if there is a customer willing to pay a substantial amount of money for your nice designer piece of furniture, you tell him that he'll have the furniture by the end of January next year?

I mean really! 2-3 months to manufacture my sofa? What am I going to sit on in the meantime? 2 months for my bed to arrive? Where will I sleep?

Oh yes, I understand... While waiting I should go to Ikea to get a bed or sofa instantly and use it until my designer one arrives. Great deal, really.

Is Ikea "good enough"?

A while ago a friend of mine pointed me to an article in Wired about the "good enough" revolution. This article has a point - in Ikea you don't buy exquisite designer furniture... you buy really nice, well made and reasonably priced furniture that you can take home usually today and since you can choose between 2-5 colors, you simply can't go wrong and it'll fit most of the homes.

I like Ikea, I'd buy more stuff from them in an instant... but my wife is dreaming about different bed... different sofa, and she really needs dozens of colors to choose from. But on the other hand she's also mad about the waiting... she's the impatient one in our duo.

So what should we do? What would you do? Is Ikea's "good enough" furniture really good enough for you?

--> me I'm Michael Sliwinski and I'm an entrepreneur who's also the...
.. Founder of Nozbe.com - a time and project management web application
.. Editor of Productive! Magazine - a global PDF publication on productivity
.. and a blogger as well as a producer of a weekly 2-minute Productive! show.

Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 (ikea,marketing,shopping)

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Nov 24, 2009 23:52
Ok, Mike... I guess she's right about not having enough choices, but... to me, personally, Ikea has been the best solution to furnish up my home! of course, nothing really fancy, but "good enough" to get started. Then, for the other "fancy" stuff... I'll have to wait a bit... BTW this is IKEA Spain... :-) take it easy and just do whatever feels better for both, find the "middle point"... just a thought! ;-) cheers!!!!
Michael Sliwinski
Nov 25, 2009 00:01
Luis, thanks for your comment!

Yes, we're trying to find the "middle point" but the problem is I really want to make my wife happy with the new apartment and all... I really want us to have the bed or sofa that she really likes... but to wait 2-3 months for it is simply killing me.

I guess we'll be visiting Ikea a lot more in the next few days as I've already found some cool pieces of furniture which are really good enough for us now... while we wait for the sofa and bed... (we'll have to transfer the old ones from the old apartment for now... to have something to sleep on)

Nov 25, 2009 04:11
There's more to it than being 'good enough'. I'm a huge Ikea fan, and own Ikea furniture... but I also own some much nicer furniture that I expect to last 15+ years.

My Ikea stuff isn't going to last that long.

The designer stuff is perfect for my house, perfect for our tastes, and timeless both in design and quality. Ikea can't do that. Ikea can provide my home office, though, which is function over color choice.

Michael Sliwinski
Nov 25, 2009 13:59
You're definitely right, Paul.

The Ikea stuff is good for certain things and the other stuff, for other things... and the cool thing with Ikea is that if you need some piece of furniture now... you can have it right then.