Swedish furniture giant Ikea aims to streamline its manufacturing operations for greater efficiencies in an effort to boost the quality of its furniture, Reuters reports.
The changes are in response to consumer demand for better-quality, longer-lasting furniture, Ikea Group CEO Peter Agnefjall told Reuters.
"Customers expect us to do more (on quality). And nowadays you can't really make products that are throwaway: when you buy a sofa table it needs to be built to last," Agnefjall said.
While fast-fashion grabbed market share with appealing design at low prices, which arguably helped change customers’ willingness to accept lower quality, the furniture market has apparently shifted the other way. As millennials get older and have more money to spend, many marketers have noted their shifting interest toward higher-quality products.
But, as Reuters notes, such a shift could be an uphill climb for Ikea, which is known the world over for its pressboard furniture and sometimes confounding assembly instructions. Ikea has long been the go-to place for college or post-college people with limited funds: A trip there can fill an apartment without too much bank account damage.
Ikea chief designer Marcus Engman said the company aims to attract new customers, including older people that don’t consider Ikea when it’s time to buy a new couch.
That’s an interesting challenge for the company, though it could be a tough transition, analysts say. "The challenge for Ikea is to make people aware of their higher-quality goods whilst at the same time maintaining that democratic appeal," Patrick O'Brien, content director at retail information specialist Verdict Retail, told Reuters.
Ikea is being forced to redesign some of its wardrobes and dressers, which must be attached to a wall in order to guarantee consumer safety, according to the company’s own instructions. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and Ikea last month announced a joint recall of 29 million Ikea chests and dressers blamed in multiple deaths and injuries of small children.