When IKEA decided to open a branch in the Philippines in 2014, they started looking into Filipinos’ way of living.
“We have been studying your life at home quite intensively, we have been visiting people,” development manager Georg Platzer told PhilSTAR L!FE. “We know the way you eat, cook, sleep, cover your windows, or even clean your homes because this is different in every country.”
The team’s market analysis also covered the everyday problems that Filipinos face, including energy costs, water costs, and poverty, among others.
Platzer, who has been living in the PH for five years now, discovered that energy costs can get really high in the country. “I was shocked when I got my first electricity bill here because I paid double the amount as I paid in Australia, where I come from,” he recalled. “I was shocked and I started to change so many things in my home to save energy because it was really terribly expensive.”
It can be recalled that the Energy Regulatory Commission received over 47,000 complaints in relation to electricity bill shock at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The complaints, however, were not only hurled against Meralco, as there are other smaller distribution utilities in the country’s energy industry,” according to the Philippine Information Agency.
It’s one of the things they are focusing on when it comes to its PH range. That being said, IKEA made the decision to scrap standard bulbs and replace them with LED—an energy-efficient light source—to help its customers save energy. “Once you buy these LED bulbs from IKEA, which are quite affordable, you immediately start saving money the day you change your light bulbs at home.”
Next is water shortage, which has long been a problem in the country. As per ReliefWeb, the World Health Organization reported that “at least one out of 10 people in the country still does not have access to high-quality water sources.”
Platzer highlighted IKEA’s water-saving features that can help customers save up to 70% in water consumption. “This is also something that can contribute to a better everyday life, more sustainable life because you save water, you save money, and you also help the whole environment to save natural resources,” he explained.
IKEA strongly believes that they can help close these huge gaps with their offerings. “Our range is adaptable to all these needs and the presentation is going to be different,” said Platzer. “It’s not driven by style so much, it’s more driven by the need of a good solution."
Poverty is also a matter of concern in the country. Just last month, the Philippine National Agency stated, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez expressed his support for the recommendation of Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua to place the whole Philippines under modified general community quarantine. Lopez noted “the increase in joblessness and poverty rate brought by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic.”
While IKEA Philippines is yet to open, they are finding ways to alleviate such problems as early as now. Apart from their job openings for the new branch, they are also looking forward to providing jobs for Filipino artisans via their special tie-up with local social enterprise Rags2Riches.
“We are selling fabrics, we are selling textile products, and whenever you need to have a tailor-made solution, these ladies are going to do this service for you. It’s a very good synergy because the quality of our products and the quality of the performance of these ladies is super good,” Platzer said.
The IKEA team is happy to help a number of Filipinos escape the poverty threat. “One of them has eight up to 10 children and now they have a regular income, they have a fixed job, they can plan, and they can have savings,” he shared, adding that it’s a fantastic example of how corporate businesses can help pull people out of the negative circle of poverty. “There’s a new future and new hope for these families.”
There’s still a lot to be done in this developing country and IKEA is excited to contribute to its betterment. “This is just the beginning. The more we will expand, the more these initiatives will come. It’s very high on our agenda,” Platzer noted.
IKEA Philippines is set to open by the second half of the year. Its online shop will be launched nine weeks before the opening of its physical store at the SM Mall of Asia Complex in Pasay City.
Article thumbnails from IKEA PH and SM Mall of Asia