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After 70 years, Ikea will stop making its beloved catalog

At its peak in 2016, 200 million copies of the Ikea catalog were distributed in 50 countries and translated into 32 languages.

After 70 years, Ikea will stop making its beloved catalog
[Photo: Ikea]
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After 70 years, Ikea has announced it will stop making its annual catalog in both its print and digital forms.

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The Ikea catalog has become one of the Swedish mega-brand’s best-known products, inspiring people around the world with images of well-designed, accessibly priced interiors. At its peak in 2016, 200 million copies of the catalog were distributed in more than 50 countries around the world, translated into 32 languages.

As a child, I have fond memories of these catalogs. My father’s job at an airline meant that my family moved frequently, but whether we were in Paris, Brussels, Singapore, or London, the catalogs arrived like clockwork, giving us ideas as we decorated yet another new home. “For both customers and co-workers, the Ikea catalog is a publication that brings a lot of emotions, memories, and joy,” says Konrad Grüss, managing director of inter Ikea systems, which runs the worldwide Ikea franchise.

[Photo: Ikea]

Grüss explains that Ikea made the decision to sunset the catalog because media consumption has changed. Since 2016, interest in the annual publication has waned. Ever since Ikea’s e-commerce platform launched in 2001, consumers have been able to check the website whenever they needed new products or wanted to browse images of beautifully designed rooms. The pandemic has resulted in an even greater increase in online traffic. “The ever-evolving COVID-19 situation has posed challenges for our customers to access our stores, but has also created many new opportunities and an acceleration of our e-commerce business,” says Tina Petersson-Lind, Ikea’s brand, range and communication manager. “Life at home is more important than ever for people. The content will continue, just not within the IKEA catalog.”

Ikea is now exploring other ways of translating the content in the catalog into new formats and channels, including social media, apps, and the Ikea website. “We have for the last couple of years successfully tested many new ways to distribute the content across a broad media mix,” says Petersson-Lind.

The Ikea catalog was first developed by the brand’s founder Ingvar Kamprad. He launched the debut edition in 1951, four years after launching the business. Back then, 285,000 copies of the 68-page book were printed in Swedish and distributed in southern Sweden. He could not have foreseen that over the next seven decades, the catalog would become reach billions of people across the world.

In the fall of 2021, Ikea will publish a book that celebrates the catalog, including vintage images from its history. For those of us who grew up with the publication, it’s sure to spark memories and nostalgia.

About the author

Elizabeth Segran, Ph.D., is a Senior staff writer at Fast Company. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts

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