Ikea in China: An Arduous Journey
IKEA, the world's largest furniture retailer, entered the Chinese market in 1998; however, it did not turn a profit in the first 10 years. Although anticipating lower profits, IKEA did not anticipate that Chinese customers would be confused about IKEA's value proposition. After 2007, IKEA adopted several strategies to adjust for the Chinese market and achieve a better performance. These adjustments made IKEA more profitable in the Chinese market. IKEA accelerated its expansion in China with a plan to open three stores every year for a total of 40 stores before 2020. Still, in 2017, the Chinese market presented IKEA with challenges, such as cheap imitations from competitors and increasing interest in e-commerce by consumers. Could the strategies IKEA used to improve its performance in the past sustain the company in the years ahead? Li-Qun Wei is affiliated with Hong Kong Baptist University.