IKEA and the power of the brown box

A company that views packaging as part of the product had 957 million store visits and $38.8 billion Euro retail sales in 2018, so they must be doing something right.


IKEA, or the “blue box on the potato field” as it’s sometimes referred to according to Allan Dickner, Manager of Packaging Developmentat IKEAof Sweden, is often first physically introduced to customers via a brown box. So, how that brown box looks when carried out of the store, or the condition it arrives in when shipped, is an important part of IKEA’s brand building.

Dickner said that in some countries IKEA has an online presence before physical stores are opened, and they would like to continue to grow their online presence. Shopping in-store is still the primary method, however, with 75% of customers carrying home their purchases and only 25% using delivery.

Speaking during day two of the ISTA European Packaging Symposium in Amsterdam today, Dickner said that IKEA produces four billion packages each year, using 900,000 tons of packaging material, 92% of which is fiber-based. (It also ships 1,000 tons of its iconic Swedish meatballs each week, if you ever wondered.)

IKEA’s 37 packaging solution engineers and 12 packaging specialists create 6,000 new packaging solutions each year. Sustainable solutions are a must – all materials must be recyclable, and renewable resources are the first choice.

Dickner advised, “Don’t forget to improve what you have.” As an example, IKEA moved from wood to paper pallets, and an improvement was made to the 480 million paper pallet feet produced each year, saving the company 30,000 tons in material and $20 million Euro annually, while cutting the weight of the pallet foot in half and increasing the load by 30%.

Dickner said that “packaging is an integrated part in the product development process and the product offer,” and must combine the following: sustainability, form, low price, function, and quality. He also said that “packaging solutions should be optimized for all sales and distribution channels for each product,” and should have a positive impact on people and the planet.

To learn more about IKEA, click here.

For more information on the ISTA European Packaging Symposium, click here.

Learn more about packaging solutions at the co-located PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, September 23-25, 2019 in Las Vegas, NV.

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