IKEA Opening Mons and Hasselt

How the development of temporary micro-stores and geo-located OOH helped IKEA achieve its strongest store opening performance in Belgium since 1984!

The Challenge

IKEA is a global home furnishing retailer and a love brand for many people passionate about interior design. Present in Belgium since 1984, IKEA decided to open two more stores in Mons & Hasselt.

However, Mons & Hasselt are two cities with tight-knit communities and a strong sense of local identity, so despite its long-lasting presence in Belgium many of the locals still perceived IKEA as a big, corporate, international brand entering their hometown.

To counter this perception we had to emphasize IKEA’s willingness to participate in the local community and give people the opportunity to discover the IKEA concept near them. The end goal of the campaign focused on a behavioral effect: we had to get people to visit the stores on opening day. We, therefore, had two key objectives:

– The main communications objective focused on generating interest: switch perception from an international corporate brand to a local love brand to get people excited.

– The marketing objective focused on traffic: the amount of store traffic on opening day.

Our Solution

In order to emphasize IKEA’s efforts towards the local community, and with traffic for both stores being an important objective, we opted for an extremely local media strategy in close proximity to the store locations and within the city centers. This strategy was built on two pillars: posters & out-of-the-box OOH formats which allowed us to be as close
as possible to our new audiences.

First pillar: for posters, we used 20m2, 2m2, cineposters & bus wraps. This combination not only delivered the necessary reach on our target audience in Mons & Hasselt but also made for an impactful presence once the stores opened. As soon as both stores opened, our posters parodied the most classical of outdoor creatives: a big picture of an advertiser’s product and the price mentioned right next to it. Except, we didn’t mention a single price in our posters. Each creative emphasized the local aspect of IKEA by highlighting products from different ranges and showing how close to you they were located. This play on a classic format, allowed us to illustrate the proximity of the future IKEA stores.

Second pillar: out-of-the-box OOH formats. In the weeks leading up to the real store openings, we opened three micro-stores in each city center as a way of sampling the IKEA experience. These micro-stores were created by transforming existing empty spaces into a Design Gallery, a Kid’s Corner and of course, a Bar à Boulettes. These micro-stores allowed the IKEA employees – who would go on to work in the actual stores – to meet the locals. Each of these micro-stores became real-life proof of our willingness to be close to the people and served as a new kind of sampling.


In terms of creating interest, our micro-stores were a success: They attracted 74.000 visitors and at one point the Bar à Boulettes was serving 1000 meatballs an hour. Thanks to this local approach, people felt part of the celebration prior to the two big openings.

In terms of actual store traffic, the openings of Mons and Hasselt were the most successful since 1984, introducing 27.000 new customers to the IKEA family in a single weekend.

It was also the first campaign to win three Gold awards – for Creativity, Efficiency and Planning – at the OOH Kings.

A short video summary of the campaign can be seen here!

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