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How do you define the American dream? Ikea wants to know

David Brancaccio Sep 21, 2016
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Businesses conduct market research all the time, hoping to measure what people are buying or want to buy. Ikea is looking into something a bit more abstract: the American dream. According to their research, conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, Americans care more about quality of life than accumulating possessions, and the American dream is more about experiences than owning things. 

Lars Petersson, president of Ikea U.S., joined us to explain how a company built on selling stuff can grow in spite of this perception. 

On how Americans define the American dream: 

We are really happy for this. We can see also in the research that the small dreams in people’s homes is very much about experience. For instance, the experience around the kitchen table. And of course, we design our products to help people to have those experiences in their homes, and you can say also that having low-cost furniture [helps] people to also realize other dreams, because you are not actually spending all your money on your home. But you are actually [freeing up] space and economic resources to do other things. 

On whether we’ve reached “peak” stuff:

We are still very small. We have 2.4 percent market share here in U.S. And we are a long way from having…market dominance in the American market. So our mission actually is to help people to have products, but are more sustainable. For instance, when we are working with windmills to produce energy, but we are now producing four times more energy than we are consuming in U.S. So buying from Ikea is also a way to have a sustainable contribution on the American market, and that we are really proud of. 

Click the above audio player to hear the full interview. 

In this bonus clip, Petersson talks about helping customers navigate Ikea:  

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