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What should Ikea do? (Nov. 2018)


This past month, while almost all of the emotional attention was going to Sears, there was another retailer that released some big news.

According to Ikea’s latest study which surveyed 22,000 people in 22 countries:

35% of respondents do not feel “at home” in their own home, up 15% from their last study two years ago. (Fast Company)

And, in the U.S., to have a private moment to themselves, 72% say they go to the bedroom, 55% go to the bathroom, and 45% go to their car!

What Ikea Should Do

Now, let’s pretend that we are the executive team of Ikea and we are considering the implications of these findings. The fact that more than a third of people in the world do not feel at home in their own home is a big deal for a self-proclaimed “home furnishings” store.  Think about where this might ultimately lead: the “furnishings” that Ikea is making does not seem to be helping a large swath of the human population feel more at home.  Or, even worse, it may be that “furnishings” in-and-of-themselves are slowly no longer necessary in feeling “home” at all.

So, as the executive team, probably the first thing that we should do is to ascertain exactly what people do in their bedroom, bathroom, or car in order for their moment to be “private.”  This behavioral characteristic will provide insight into the psychological as well as physical requirements and preferences for a potential Ikea customer that will guide the company when it comes to product development.

That is, Ikea would then try and figure out, “what kind of products would elicit the sense of ‘home’ in a person, wherever it is that they might feel it?”  Figuring that out, and then making it affordable, would be the design challenge.

What Ministries Should Do

Switching over to ministry, this might be yet another reminder that the “sanctuary” (a place to pray, reflect, and participate in communal ritual) a church building traditionally provides may have begun to be replaced with whatever environment it is that people create in their bedroom, bathroom, and car.  A sense of “sanctuary” is certainly not the same as “home,” but it does have parity with “a private moment.”  And, the challenge for ministries now is not to build a sanctuary such that it can compete with a bathroom; the ministry must figure out how it can get in that bathroom with that person.

The implications of this is that it may be worth less to start “a new worship service” in the same church building or location vs. publishing a “guide to the bathroom,” where people have reading material that helps them think, reflect, and get to a better place in their mind.  Perhaps for the more adventurous ministry leaders, a hashtag like #bathroomjournal may be effective where people are encouraged to share their thoughts in the bathroom and then to come together to share about them with the purpose of progressing in their situation.

Instead of trying to connect with people within one mile of a church location, it may well be advantageous to target those who are farther out who would have to drive a bit longer and then to provide them with media (ie. podcast, etc.) that they can listen to on their way to the church location.  Better yet, a ministry might designate a scenic location to “meet up at,” and provide reflective media for them to listen on the way so that they can share together when they arrive there.

The bottom line is that, just as the demise of Sears is telling us, it is not necessarily that a physical location is not important.  It is that its importance has shifted and that the experience that a location elicits has taken primacy.  In the same way, the purpose of certain time-honored assets of ministry has also shifted and the challenge now is to re-appropriate those assets for where they might most be effective.

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James from PASTORIA
a faith + innovation makery