Ikea inside Gen Z’s four walls

The brand’s 2023 ‘Life At Home’ report reveals the preferences of Gen Z, who now have a range to choose from

Updated - May 24, 2024 03:35 pm IST

Published - February 16, 2024 04:15 pm IST

Did you know that: for 31% of Indians, their favourite pillow is the most important element that helps them sleep. For 50% of Indians, home is their favourite place to be; 56% of Indians say they’re planning to move next year; and 71% say they have a positive outlook about their future in the next two years.

These are some of the insights in Ikea’s 2023 ‘Life at Home’ report. It comprises research conducted over the last 10 years, and includes data from more than 2,50,000 people across 40 different countries. Taken all together, the data set is huge and hard to make sense of. But it is conveniently broken down based on region, country, and age group.

According to the report, Gen Z seems the least concerned about their life at home. Adding to this, they’re also the ones least satisfied with it. This is emphasised by a host of parameters. For instance, while 56% of Indians are actively prioritising an ideal home that makes them feel relaxed and content, only 41% of Gen Zers are doing the same. It seems natural then that while 63% of Indians feel positive about their current life at home, the same number for Gen Z is 53%. While 50% of Indians say home is their favourite place to be, only 43% of Gen Z feel the same. As a part of this younger demographic myself, it piqued my interest and seemed worth looking into.

Different priorities

I more or less agree with the insights of this report: I don’t actively prioritise the home, and I rarely spend time thinking about what furniture I want to buy, what mattress would best suit my needs, or even how I can make my home more comfortable. The most significant reason is that home arrangements, for me now, are temporary, and come with the expectation of imminent change. As I see it, there’s no point spending time and thought to decorate, only to move to another city and perhaps another job a year later. Money is another important consideration, given that people my age don’t have a lot of it.

Chest of drawers

Chest of drawers

One of the most significant insights in the report was that a majority (61%) of Gen Zers are planning to move in the next two years. The reasons: from getting closer to family and friends, to having more space, and reducing costs. One of Ikea’s priorities is tapping into this younger demographic, says Susanne Pulverer, CEO, Ikea India.

She acknowledges that this generation’s priorities may be different: they might be more curious to see the world, to travel, to socialise and to have authentic experiences. But at the end of the day, they still come back home. For instance, when they design a range, they make sure to have style groups that cater to traditional tastes as well as modern ones. “I’ve noticed the younger generation is more inclined to modern styles, so furniture that is light, easy to move, multifunctional and has an uncluttered look,” says Pulverer. They also ensure that for every product category, they have a range of prices, starting from low to medium to high, because they know that most Gen Zers are young professionals with little money to spare on things like home decor. Ikea also increasingly aims to offer furniture that can be assembled and dismantled on a day’s notice. “The day you want to move, you can just pack it up and leave,” says Pulverer.

Four-piece exercise collection

Four-piece exercise collection

The brand also recently launched a fitness collection, DAJLIEN, in response to findings that showed 34% of Indians think physical health is a top concern for them at home. The collection includes exercise mats, portable speakers, training benches, air purifiers and more, all designed in a way that they blur the line between training equipment and stylish decor. Prices range from ₹500 to ₹7,000. The collection is expected to be popular with Gen Z, though it’s too early to say since it was launched this January.

Dajlien blanket

Dajlien blanket

Crystallising strategy

From the few conversations I had with friends my age, Ikea products seem popular among the younger generation. They are often an easy, safe and mostly cheap bet. For instance, if you absolutely need a chest of drawers but don’t want to put too much thought into it, Ikea’s minimalistic designs are a convenient go-to. They’re easy to assemble, and come in varied price ranges; and while you’re there, you might just pick up a table lamp to go with it.

Saranya Subramanian, 27, thinks similarly. She’s a writer by profession, and personally, her aesthetic is maximalist: she’d rather spend hours in Mumbai’s chor bazaar searching for an old, ornate rocking chair; or the perfect bookcase. But when she needs something urgently, she falls back on Ikea. She recently bought a table from there after her previous one collapsed.

A bookcase

A bookcase

Vaishnavi Sreenivasan’s (26) family has always been on the move, shifting cities and even countries due to her dad’s job in different public health agencies. Most houses they rented came with existing furniture, and in case they needed an extra table or cupboard, there was always Ikea. Sreenivasan’s itinerant beginnings have carried over to her current decorating choices, which have always leaned towards cheap, easy and functional. “I think of Ikea as the fast fashion of furniture, but don’t get me wrong. I love it,” she says. For Sreenivasan, it actually works out perfectly: she doesn’t want anything tying her down.

More than furniture

In many ways, Ikea’s ‘Life At Home’ report is a dive into people’s daily lives and habits. “In the beginning, I thought the report would include how people are furnishing their homes, what types of furniture they prefer. But it’s actually much deeper than that,” says Pulverer. “It’s a dialogue around what they do when they are home, how they live, what are their dreams, what are their needs, what frustrates them. So that’s one way of understanding how we can really become relevant for people.” And for Pulverer, it has led to some interesting discoveries. Gen Z’s hopes and dreams is simply one among many insights. Another that she was surprised by was that 71% of Indians had a positive outlook about their future in the next two years; while globally, only 46% of people felt the same. “I think that was very telling, that India is on a growth path that is quite different from other countries where Ikea is active,” says Pulverer.

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