Peak curtains - IKEA exciting millennials with circular products?

Back in January, Steve Howard, Ikea’s sustainability chief, told us we had hit “peak stuff”: “We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings…”

We love this language – it’s simple, memorable, provocative and promises action.

He was saying that the accelerating rate of resource usage and product disposal is unsustainable and needs to be brought under control. Now we’re seeing innovative products driven by “circular models” that are making good on that promise. According to Dezeen these products “include recycling processes for Ikea’s own packaging and manufacturing waste, which have been utilised for a homeware series that Ikea described as “no waste” products”.

This is exciting stuff – several of these products are using massively innovative processes and seem fairly desirable – especially to IKEA’s younger consumers.

New IKEA circular economy collection makes good on Peak Stuff promise

However, the really exciting story will come when IKEA starts to formulate radical solutions to its product and marketing models. Products are generally not built for the very long-haul; construction is sometimes flimsy, and it’s rare to find IKEA furniture in second hand markets. The marketing model satisfies our consumerist urges for an instant and affordable thrill of buying a boldly patterned rug. But after about 20 minutes, we crave more, and IKEA is there to provide it.

That’s why the really enticing  part of Howard’s January speech is how we slow down mindless consumption, yet still drive growth and profitability. We await with open minds and open wallets.

Maddie Stone