The Catalogue Guru: giving online formats the credit they deserve

María Novillo

10 December 2020

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When September comes around, there are two types of people; those who get ready to go back to school, and those that devote their time to putting away their summer clothes or drawing up a long list of “resolutions” that, for once, they will have to fulfill. But if you’re a fan of the Swedish giant, this is background noise, as the only thing you look forward to in September is the launch of the IKEA Catalogue.

Each September, every year, this is how half of Spain’s population, customers and fans prepare to check their mailboxes daily for the famous best-seller. The wait is not over until they dive into the pages of the catalogue in pursuit of inspiration and solutions to turn their home into the perfect refuge, a ritual we like to call #MiMomentoCatálogo (#MyCatalogueMoment).

But what if the experience changed, meaning inspiration was to no longer be delivered to our homes?  Would the buildup and initiative lose its magic?

In 2020, we chose to reverse the order

This was the challenge we were faced with in 2020: tackling the launch of the IKEA catalogue in a context in which, due to COVID-19 prevention and safety measures, it would no longer be distributed to Spanish homes. There would be no daily mailbox checks, no third degree interrogation of the postman or postwoman. But we were inspired and we knew the digital format had the potential to bring infinite possibilities.

The alternative to enjoying the catalogue in its online format has always been perceived by its fans as a plan B. It was considered a very attractive solution when it came to transporting the catalogue elsewhere once already scouring the paper version. However, it was always the second option, emphasis on the second. Flipping through the pages, marking your favourite ones to go back to them later, always came first.

We wanted to make the digital alternative as special as the analogical one. So we decided to turn the IKEA digital catalogue into an unforgettable experience. 

Catalogue Guru

A guru is born

The biggest problem with the digital world is that we often perceive it as foreign, it feels cold, we don’t always quite grasp the real advantages it can enable us with. We realised that we had a mammoth task: we needed fans to understand everything they could do from their mobile phones, their tablets or their computers. In terms of audience, this action was not only aimed at “young people”, but everyone: we had to create an entertaining experience that they did not mind reliving over and over again.

That’s how we came to realise the necessity of  a friendly encouraging face, essentially a master of ceremonies guiding fans through the discovery of the digital catalogue and dispelling the fears and doubts of the most reluctant. We needed a guru.

With this in mind, we called upon Yolanda Ramos, a well-known TV personality whose unique personality and quirky sense of humour would allow us to be didactic without losing the ingenious tone that characterises IKEA. We wanted a guru that could both speak to and empathise across the spectrum, from the likes of a PhD holder or just your regular Joe Blogs, so that both of them could identify with her words… and Yolanda did just that!

We created a space in which our Guru was IKEA’s number one expert in the digital catalogue, enlightening fans about its many qualities and virtues, walking them through each step of the journey. 

  • You’ve got a real soft spot for Swedish novelty? Simply click on the digital catalogue to add to your wishlist or shopping cart. Easy, simple, and takes less than a minute. 
  • You want to take another look at your favourite products on your daily commute to work? Just download the catalogue on your phone or tablet to be able to look at it at any given time, even at the gym. 
  • So, what if you want to drop a major hint so that they get you the latest Nordic style tableware for your birthday? All you need to do is screenshot your catalogue and share it on social media with your favourite hashtags (#INeedIt, #IKEALatest, #MyBirthdayIsJustAroundtheCorner, #IKEADigitalCatalogue, etc.)

The experience 

In order unite our new digital format and audiences, we developed five chapters in video format to give the #CatalogueMoment that digital touch it needed. The reaction of IKEA’s fans was immediate: they left hundreds of comments on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram expressing how much they loved the Guru or even using our own hashtags, such as #GurúTKM (#IlyGuru).

She had shown them a new way of understanding and experiencing the IKEA Catalogue that was both in line with the current context, and leveraged using the array of digital resources surrounding us, and for that users welcomed her with open arms. 

But we wanted the complete experience, so we decided to give users some extra entertainment. We designed stickers so that they could follow the lead of the Guru and share their experiences with the digital catalogue, we created a digital space for the most curious to send us their doubts. After this experience, we are pretty sure a fair few have basically reached masters degree standard in the digital world! 

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And what was the result? Our content generated 2.5 million impacts, and social media users fell so deeply in love with the digital catalogue that we doubled the engagement rate thanks to their comments, likes and shares. In fact, we beat our own records: the initial post unveiling our Guru became the most shared post ever of IKEA Spain.  

For the first time in 70 years, the most famous catalogue was distributed only online and, rather than becoming a national drama, it became a great opportunity to give online formats the credit they deserve.