This material is a case study documenting IKEA's experience in the Spanish market from its entry in 1996 through 2004. While background information on IKEA, in general, is provided, the case emphasis is on the evolution of its Spanish communication strategies. The case ends with the decision as to how to move forward and provides students with four distinct alternatives to consider. The information provided includes a history of IKEA, its global communications strategy, and more specifically, its past strategy for Spain split into various years and campaigns. Viewers are able to see multiple graphs of IKEA’s performance, as well as examples of IKEA’s print, catalog and television advertisements. The case ends with the viewer having to choose one of four options for the company’s future communication strategy in Spain.
The module systematically walks the viewer through the history of IKEA Spain’s marketing communications strategy, with the express goal of having him/her act as the real-world Marketing Director and determine the next course of action to take. Instructors are encouraged to customize the learning goals of the case to the particular course being taught (see target student population). In general, the case allows an instructor to show the integrative nature of communications, the link between communication strategy and outcomes (i.e., image, store traffic, sales), and various strategies for communicating an international brand (i.e., global versus national campaigns).
Target Student Population:
College level marketing students, though advanced high school students could also benefit, Primarily appropriate coursework includes Principles of Marketing, Integrated Marketing Communications and Strategic Marketing, however the case could also be used in Consumer Behavior, Retail Marketing and Global Marketing.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
In addition to basic computer skills, some exposure to basic marketing principles would be necessary to analyze the case.
Type of Material:
This case can be used in multiple ways. It could be assigned as an individual assignment for an online or face-to-face class. Groups also could analyze the case. It also could be integrated into a course lecture. Conversely, instructors could choose to use snippets of information from the case as examples in class, abandoning the case philosophy.
Internet access (very high speed for video streaming), online video player capabilities, and Adobe Acrobat to view pdf files;also requires Active X or similar program for video content to run.
Evaluation and Observation
This is a wonderfully concise and interactive case. The necessary depth of material is provided, but in such a way that students would not be overwhelmed. In fact, I believe students would find the case to be engaging and entertaining. The IKEA case addresses multiple learning objectives and can be integrated into multiple marketing (and communications) courses. The module is a nicely designed case which highlights an easily recognizable and relatable company. Background information is provided in detail, so that viewers can see how the marketing communications strategies and campaigns have evolved over time, as well as their results. The numerous print and video examples, provided with translations as necessary, enhance the overall educational value and allow students to explore communications both in Spain and globally.
The case information concludes in the year 2004, and is potentially more out of date than what is preferred by instructors today. Though tabs are provided for the various topical aspects, the progression through the case isn’t as smooth as what one might find in a text-based case as it lacks both an introduction and a case question, i.e. what should IKEA do, that would be helpful at the outset. IKEA's business results, as presented in the case, mask the issue of expansion and whether expansion alone is driving what might be perceived as success. The addition of store level data could address this concern.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The case has two main strengths. First, it is versatile resulting in many possible classroom applications. Second, while versatile, it also is pointed in that ultimately a specific decision must be made regarding the direction of IKEA's communication strategy. Students who react negatively to traditional textbook cases should love this engaging, interactive case. The author has put together a visually appealing delivery method which includes embedded video advertisements, print ads and catalogs along with interactive charts. The case is well-written, is engaging and provides enough fodder for a good paper assignment and/or classroom discussion. The company is one that is recognizable to students, and the identified problem, i.e. what should IKEA do next, is both very common and practical for study and thus the case provides a valuable real-world lesson. Additionally, the multiple television and print examples provided allow for addressing other communications concepts such as localization vs. globalization and appeal/message design.
The case requires the student, as the Marketing Director for IKEA Spain, to choose one of four options for the strategy beyond 2004. There is no express assignment given, however, so instructors would need to craft expectations. Also, there is no link provided to what actually did happen during the years 2004-2010, thus requiring the instructor to research the topic for any follow-up discussion. Many instructors have come to rely on teaching notes. This lack of teaching notes can result in significantly longer prep time.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The module is well-designed, with multiple colors, graphs and interactivity to engage the viewer. The site is easy to navigate, and the wording used is both understandable and applicable to even lower-level marketing students. For the most part, the case can be easily utilized as a course assignment. The IKEA Communication Strategy case is representative of the future of education. Most traditional students, for better or worse, want to be entertained. They want to see something in action, and not read about it in a book. This case is interactive, engaging and visually appealing.
The directions for navigating the case are not crystal clear. This might cause some students to overlook pertinent information. Instructors may need to spend five to ten minutes of class time going over the mechanics of the online case. The interactivity, while engaging, does restrict the student review of the case to a computer.
Other Issues and Comments:
While appropriate for any course delivery method, this case would be particularly suitable for an online class.