Will sustainability work for IKEA?

Though IKEA’s environmental record may not be perfect, consumers will give it points for making the effort.

IKEA, the Swedish mass furniture retailer, has set some pretty lofty sustainability goals for itself. By the year 2020, the company plans to –

  • increase the amount of sustainably sourced material in its supply chain twofold,
  • use only Forest Stewardship Council-certified lumber, and
  • power its stores using 100 percent renewable resources.

On one hand, it makes sense for a contemporary and design-centric store like IKEA to charge full steam into sustainability. One big reason is that a massive chunk of its shoppers are Millennials, a generation that overwhelmingly cares about protecting the environment and leading sustainable lives.

On the other hand, IKEA has left itself open to criticism. IKEA is the third largest corporate consumer of wood in the world. Furthermore, they produce furniture that is largely created using particleboard – a material that minimizes cost and weight – making it easier to transport furniture from the store to a shopper’s home. But it can also be brittle and easily broken. The lifespan of a piece of IKEA furniture really depends on the amount of abuse it receives. An owner can have a particleboard bookcase last anywhere from a few days to a few years.

One positive aspect of particleboard is that it can be created using scrap and waste wood – a practice IKEA utilizes for much of its material. Still, does this mean the company is out of the woods when it comes to assuaging green consumers’ criticism? Not quite. But I think they’re on the right track.

In our 2013 edition of Eco Pulse, nearly half of consumers said that a company’s environmental reputation affects their purchase decisions.

Furthermore, almost three-quarters of consumers would stop purchasing from a company, and perhaps encourage others to do the same, if they found out about a company’s environmental infractions.

Consumers are doing more research into the products they buy, and the companies that are producing the products they buy. IKEA appears to be going a long way toward ensuring that their customers not only trust the brand, but also feel good about buying their products because of the sustainability story they are crafting.

I expect that IKEA customers, especially Millennials, will see the company’s sustainability goals as a positive, and continue to reward the company for making affordable home furnishings that are sustainably produced.

Skills

Posted on

August 2, 2013

About the Author

Pat Lorentz

Pat is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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