First Nazi ties, now ignoring their customers – Is IKEA actually aiming for a new PR catastrophe?

IKEA seems to want to become the champion in bad-will and bad PR: first allegations (found to be true) of the founder Ingvar Kamprad’s Nazi ties, then claims of tax evasion, and now lately their latest idea of banning food from external providers offering only their own brand of food in their FoodShop.

Needless to say this has sparked an outcry of dissatisfaction from customers expecting to get high-quality food from IKEA’s FoodShop. And it’s not so much that we miss well-known and loved brands, but mostly because the food simply isn’t good. Agreed food is a question of taste and preferences but I think we can agree that chocolate should contain cocoa and pickled herring should contain herring?

In a valiant effort to try to change matters the members of the Facebook group “Bring real food back to IKEA” has started to write to “their” local IKEA store in places ranging from France, Spain, China and Canada. IKEA Foodservices shows their regard to us, their soon to be ex-customers, by providing us with the same standardised non-committal answer, which I copy below:

Hello,

Thank you for your email and for your feedback.

We are sorry to hear that you feel that the quality of some of our products has decreased since we launched them under our own brand. When developing our cinnamon giffel (croissant) we wanted to have a more natural product than the one we previously had in the range. Our product contain no preservatives and we have also minimized the additives compared to the old one. But this mean that the product now have to be sold frozen. We have received both positive and negative feedback on this product, and we have decided to adjust the recipe and are aiming on launching an even better product. The cinnamon buns that you can buy in the shop are the same as the ones served in the restaurant/bistro and this is one of our most popular products and we have not received any negative feedback on it before.

I fully understand that you as a Swede living abroad appreciate the traditional Swedish food brands. It is however for us at IKEA a natural step to develop and sell unique products under our own brand. We still have the same focus on quality at low prices but now we have an even better possibility to secure that the range live up to our principles regarding quality, ingredients, production etc. Our own products are as before based on Swedish recipes and traditions.

The range is constantly developing and right now we have quite a number of products on the way to the stores. You will soon be able to find cheese, different kinds of bread (hällakaka and tunnbröd) and within a couple of weeks the Christmas range will be available as well. In the Christmas range you will among others find Janssons temptation, mulled wine and a gingerbread house.

We do hope to see you at IKEA also in the future!

Kind regards,
Josefine Hallberg
IKEA Food Services AB

Honestly – do they think that promising more food of the same substandard quality will make us come back to IKEA? And, do they also feel that half a million people around the world is a negligible group of customers?

Grumpy customers might be a nuisance, without which it would be easier to run any business – but we are also engaged and caring enough to bother enough to contact IKEA, and I feel we merit more than a standardised slap on the cheek.

Seth Godin expresses it much more elegant in his post “Please complain” http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/09/please-complain.html

And in acting the way IKEA acts they are hurting us twice. The company prides itself in doing business “The Swedish Way” and as a Swede I can assure my reader that it takes more than to sell paired down furniture for that. It also takes an approach of pride, simplicity, transparency, equality and responsibility. IKEA fail sorely on all fronts. The only thing Swedish about IKEA is the colour on their walls. If they had any pride they’d change that too.

Personally I just wonder when IKEA actually will start to listen to their customers?

3 responses to “First Nazi ties, now ignoring their customers – Is IKEA actually aiming for a new PR catastrophe?

  1. As a Swedish expat for more than 4 decades, I celebrated Ikea’s arrival in the U.S. and, while the furniture had me returning occasionally, it was the food shop that had me coming back on a regular basis. That is until the HAFI Drottningsylt (sold as Queen’s Blend) was dropped from the shelves in favor of some flavorless stuff and I could no longer get Marabou’s hazelnut. Quite right – this merchandizing hubris will only prove to be another in a series of self-inflicted wounds. Having since returned to Sweden, I can console remaining expats with the assurance that the Ikea food stores in Sweden are worse featuring mostly low-quality candy… but there is a bit more furniture and the catalog amazingly remains the stuff of legend even as the paper quality is increasingly lacking.

    Gilla

  2. Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve have in mind your stuff prior to and you’re simply too great. I really like what you have bought right here, really like what you’re saying and the way wherein you are saying it. You are making it enjoyable and you continue to take care of to stay it smart. I cant wait to learn much more from you. That is really a tremendous website.

    Gilla

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