Argghh – I still love IKEA11/18/2013 | Follow Neil | Connect with Neil

I once heard somebody speak at a Marketing Week Live seminar a couple of years ago (sorry, can’t remember who or exactly when), but she talked about how we never forget what a brand means to us. We simply add new experiences on top and this can modify or feelings about that brand or what we associate them with.

Her example was Lucozade. When I grew up Lucozade was the sickly sweet stuff you got to drink when you were off school sick. Then Daley Thompson featured in their adverts and over the last couple of decades they have repositioned themselves as a sports drink for athletic types. I buy into that and will often buy a bottle after exercise, but I still buy a bottle when I’m feeling unwell.

Another personal example is IKEA. I have every reason to hate IKEA. Their kitchen design service was woefully bad. Their customer service is slow and unresponsive. You can’t buy all their products on the website. Their shop is frustratingly busy at times and, having taken my son (5) and daughter (3) there on Saturday, it can be an exhausting experience.

But I still love it.

Why? Because my first experience was the day I left University and moved in with my girlfriend (now wife). We got a small flat and we went to IKEA to kit it out with birch coloured blocky furniture and futons. That experience, to me, was amazing and it sticks with me. I felt grown up and no longer a student. We had, for the first time, new furniture and our lives were full of excitement about moving into the world of work.

On Sunday afternoon my children and I built the flat pack furniture we bought on Saturday. Assembling their furniture made me think back to that first experience in 1999 with fond memories.

This led me to think about my children when they leave home and set off into the big wide world. They might head to IKEA and buy a van full of cheap furniture and feel that same sense of pride and excitement. And hopefully they’ll think back to all the times they helped Dad build furniture and this will add extra significance for them.

Then we’ll have another generation of IKEA fans who get all sentimental despite terrible customer service and a frustrating web experience.

As a marketer it focuses me on the importance of establishing that emotional connection, because they can outlive negative experiences.

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