Marketing experts say local furniture stores shouldn’t worry too much about IKEA stealing customers

FISHERS, Ind.  - Marketing experts say despite the possibility of some initial customer loss,  local furniture store owners shouldn’t worry too much about the grand opening of IKEA in Fishers.

Butler University marketing professor Dan McQuiston says because of IKEA’s name recognition, and the fact its nearest store is located in Cincinnati, the grand opening will undoubtedly attract a mass of customers. But in order for them to stay competitive, he says other stores have to work on  highlighting what makes them different.

“You have to look at what are people coming to your store for and what are people going to IKEA for. People who come to a smaller store what are they looking for? They want personal attention, they want you to know about them as individuals, and they want you to know their wants and desires,” McQuiston said.

According to McQuiston, personalization and building realtionships with customers become more important when competing against a mega store like IKEA.

“ if you walk into a Starbucks, you like it when the barista knows what you want. When you go to your favorite restaurant for breakfast, you like it when the waitress knows you like your eggs a certain way. It’s the same way with a furniture store,” he said.

McQuiston says knowing what customers want is contingent on knowing who your customers are. Which means targeted marketing is also extremely important.

“They have to develop a database, they have to know who’s coming into the store, they have to be able to group those people by Geographic’s, by demographics, by lifestyle and put those people into groups so when they have a special sale or special line of furniture its attractive to those groups,” he said.

One company who says they have little concern for IKEA’s ability to steal customers is Broad Ripple based Scandinavian Comfort.  Despite the store selling similarly styled furniture, (IKEA is a Scandinavian company) managing partner Debbie Turner says she believes their client base will be un-phased.

“Anytime you have a comparable company as far as design and style that certain niches really love and aspire to have its nice when they come here. And so you have a couple ways of experiencing the same type of style.”

As for Mcquistion, he says its likely the initial rush of customers flocking to IKEA will “level itself out”  within 4-6 months.