What can Europe's politicians learn from Ikea?
The chain sells uniform products across Europe. The parliament is often criticised for squeezing national identity by enforcing uniform standards across Europe. So how does the chain get away with it?
How does Ikea manage to unify Europeans around its brand and its products, where the parliament so often fails to do so?
"In modern marketing," says Per Olof Berg, Professor of Brand Marketing at the University of Stockholm, "we are talking about the interplay between the customers and the company. And sometimes customers pick companies for their own purposes. Customers are picking Ikea because it provides certain values."
Ikea and the European Parliament are, of course, chalk and cheese. In the end Ikea is just a shop - albeit a very big one - that has to do one thing: sell stuff to people, like beds and candles and jars of lingonberry jam. But Ikea pulls off some pretty neat tricks along the way - inspiring people who feel lost when it comes to their most important space, their home; involving people with their purchases, from catalogue to assembly.
Ikea gives people a degree of control, or at lest the illusion of it. The parliament gives them a vote once every five years and then hands down laws. In amongst the bookcases, the tea lights and the table lamps, may there be lessons for legislatures everywhere ?