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Built On Purpose: The IKEA Challengers

Welcome to another issue of Built On Purpose. In this issue we’ll be taking a look at companies chall

Built On Purpose

June 10 · Issue #20 · View online
A newsletter which introduces you to a great, purposeful, and inspiring company every other week.

Welcome to another issue of Built On Purpose. In this issue we’ll be taking a look at companies challenging the home furniture giant IKEA. Let’s get right to it because this issue is a big one.

The big picture
Before we start talking about the players here, let’s take a step back to understand the macro trends and forces in this market. I found this insightful article about the rise of the D2C (direct-to-consumer) home over at Curb quite insightful. I’ll be sharing a few highlights from it along with my own observations of this area. This is followed by a list of the challengers and their purpose/mission.
Technology advancements in product development and manufacturing have lowered the entry barrier to this market. The logistics technological advancements are making selling furniture and home furnishing online easier than before. Coupled with the rise of e-commerce, which existing players like IKEA was late to the game, it has created a new playground for newcomers. 
Needs of millennials 
And then comes the mismatch between established players’ offerings and millennials’ needs for function, aesthetics, and design. 
  • They are accustomed to well-designed products (think iPhone). 
  • They want simplicity not just in the products but also the selection. (After all, we’re also in the age of curation.)
  • They want brands they can connect with. 
  • They want transparency: what is it made from, how is it designed and made, and who made it. 
  • They want products aligned with the beliefs about diversity/inclusion. (For example, gender-neutral design.)
In other words, honesty and authenticity is key, and the value proposition must be simple and clear. 
The newcomers’ game plan
In the midst of these market conditions here comes the challengers. The newcomers fully embrace Internet and e-commerce and place the D2C business model at its core. The business model of the D2C disrupters in general have two things going for them:
  1. They sell direct and thus eliminate the middlemen (wholesalers and retailers), which allows them to lower prices and offer higher quality goods.
  2. The have a direct connection with the customer and thus are able to better learn their needs and adapt to them.
They further complement the above with two more elements:
  1. A streamlined hassle free experience from communicating, purchasing, and to returns.
  2. Creating a brand where people can connect to and resonate with. 
What about stores and physical presence? Although e-commerce is at the core, these D2C also leverage popup stores and physical outlets as a showroom that communicates the worldview of the brand as well as a portal to the Instagram accounts of its visitors. 
With that, let’s meet some of the courageous challengers and see what they stand for. 
Civil, founded by third generation Scandinavian furniture makers, the New York furniture company works to let more people enjoy Scandinavian designer furniture while treating both people & our planet with respect.

Inside Weather
Inside Weather provides customized furniture. They believe that shopping for furniture should be modern, personal and accessible.

FLOYD makes lasting modern furniture that are easy to assemble and disassemble.
Floyd began because we were tired of disposable furniture. So we set out to design products of lasting quality for how people live today. Furniture should be made for the home, not the landfill. Made with materials that last. It’s a different way of making furniture. We call it furniture for keeping.

We’re working every day to reduce our impact on the environment. From searching for recyclable materials to finding new methods for packaging that don’t rely on plastic to—one day—fully closing our production loop.
Material sells tasteful kitchenware, designed and curated for modern home cooks. 
Whether you’re a professional chef or a first-time home cook, whether you’re making three fried eggs or a three course meal, whether you have a custom wine fridge or a hand-me-down mini fridge—kitchens are a sacred source of pride in our homes. They’re the living rooms that have connected people for thousands of years, and we hope to make our subtle mark on that rich history by helping people create more space for the meaningful moments our kitchens deserve.

Great Jones

Year & Day
Year & Day provides dinnerware. 
Your table is where you nourish yourself, your friendships & your family. It’s where you mark the pleasures and the passing of your years & days. That’s why it’s worth it to set a table you love. We exist to make that easy for you.
Parachute makes modern bedding and bath essentials for a more comfortable home. Their founder Ariel Kaye explains why she started the company: 
I created Parachute because I want people to start and end their days feeling their very best – and that begins with better sheets for a better night’s sleep.
Home Improvement
Clare, a paint brand, on a mission to make paint shopping easier and more inspiring, so you can create a home you love.
Next Week
Now that we’ve seen the challengers, it’s only natural we take a look at IKEA itself on how it’s trying to stay in the game in the next issue. See you.

With Purpose,
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