Sociologist Sangyoub Park forwarded us a fascinating account of Ikea’s business model … for China. In the U.S., there are rather strict rules about what one can do in a retail store. Primarily, one is supposed to shop, shop the whole time, and leave once one’s done shopping. Special parts of the store might be designated for other activities, like eating or entertaining kids, but the main floors are activity-restricted.
Not in China. Ikea has become a popular place to hang out. People go there to read their morning newspaper, socialize with friends, snuggle with a loved one, or take a nap. Older adults have turned it into a haunt for singles looking for love. Some even see it as a great place for a wedding.
This stands in contrast to efforts in some McDonald’s in the United States to limit how long patrons can stay. But, this stance might be ingenious for more companies:
1. It may raise the image of the company. It is a cool place to be. Oh yeah, you can buy stuff there as well.
2. In areas that lack public spaces, these retail locations can serve an important function.
3. It may just lead to more sales. Unfortunately, stories like this often don’t include this information.