IKEA turns real Toronto homes into showrooms

To promote the opening of its new downtown Toronto store, IKEA has turned actual homes across the city into live-action “billboards” featuring some of its most popular products, including a Finnala sofa, a Kragsta coffee table, and a Fjällbo laptop table.

Developed by the home furnishing retailer’s agency partner Rethink, the “Window Shopping” campaign spotlights a room in five types of Toronto home—a Queen St. west apartment, a condominium in the Distillery District, a semi-detached in Roncesvalles, and homes in Cedervale and midtown Toronto—that has been turned into a showroom.

While the accompanying video ad uses actors, the homes it features are all real. Each has been “wrapped” with an IKEA decal and the words “Made for downtown living.”

The room displays in IKEA stores use varied products and layouts to reflect various customer segments such as young families and single urban dwellers, said Jordan Sequeira, marketing campaign leader for IKEA. The retailer used that approach in the campaign.

“Grounded in our knowledge of life at home, and in keeping with the irreverent IKEA ‘twinkle in the eye,’ we took an aspect of our iconic shopping experience—inspiring home furnishing solutions—and pulled real life inspiration into our creative to share how IKEA furniture can transform downtown living spaces,” said Sequeira.

The new downtown Toronto store is IKEA’s 15th in Canada, although it is the retailer’s first urban format. With a considerably smaller footprint than its suburban stores—approximately 66,000 square feet versus an average of 300,000 square feet—it is part of a continued trend that is seeing traditional big-box retailers entering denser urban markets with downsized versions of their suburban outlets.

IKEA has previously stated that it plans to open 30 such stores in cities around the world, a strategy that has been adopted by other big-box retailers including Target and Macy’s.

Here in Canada, grocers like Sobeys and Loblaw have all opened smaller downtown locations in recent years, as have Canadian Tire, Mondou and Sleep Country Canada. Speaking with Bloomberg in 2019, Retail Council of Canada president and CEO Diane Brisbois called it a “new wave” of big-box, a reflection of the fact that 70% of the Canadian population will live in urban centres by 2050.

Chris Powell