Ikea has announced it will no longer print its yearly catalogue, a publication that was once the most distributed book in the world – more than the Bible, and Harry Potter. In its peak year of 2016 the catalogue distributed 200 million copies, but since then customer behaviours and media consumption have changed, managing director Konrad Grüss says in a statement, and fewer people read the catalogue than in previous years. So it has come to the “emotional but rational decision” to stop printing the book, and look to the future.
The news is core to the company’s transformation to becoming more digital and accessible. Last year Ikea’s online retail sales increased by 45 per cent and its homepage received four billion visits. In response the brand has invested in improving digital services, launching new apps, and experimenting with how online retail might look, via its research lab Space10 – for example its EverydayExperiments prototypes with ManvsMachine and Field. It has already begun testing new formats and ways to transition the catalogue content into digital, Grüss says. “Now the work will now continue to amplify the unique Ikea home furnishing knowledge, products and solutions in the best possible way – to inspire the many people through existing and new ways, channels and formats.”
The catalogue first launched in 1951, put together by Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad himself. Available only in Swedish and 68 pages long, it featured the MK wing chair in brown upholstery on the cover. 285,000 copies were printed and distributed in southern Sweden. In 2016, 200 million copies were distributed in 69 different versions, 32 languages to over 50 markets.
Ikea plans to mark the history of its annual catalogue with a book, due to publish in autumn 2021.
Ikea museum (Copyright © Ikea, 2020)