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Ikea focuses on food with Toronto pop-up

Retailer encourages Canadians to go against traditional food conventions

There’s no assembly required for shoppers looking to experience Ikea’s latest venture.

Last Friday, the home furnishings retailer opened a food-focused pop-up store in downtown Toronto.

The pop-up, located at the corner of King St. and Blue Jays Way, is part of a campaign that supports Ikea’s global theme of “It Starts With The Food.” It’s supported by the hashtag #StartFooding.

The goal of the pop-up, says Lauren MacDonald, country deputy marketing manager with Ikea Canada, is to introduce shoppers to Ikea products in a creative way and to challenge traditional food conventions, encouraging Canadians to make every meal their own.

“We want to give consumers the opportunity to think about food differently, and this interactive pop-up experience showcases how innovative Ikea is while challenging consumers to Start Fooding in a way that’s healthy, fun and affordable,” says Stefan Sjöstrand, president of Ikea Canada.

The entrance of the pop-up, for example, is dedicated to sweets and desserts. “Start with dessert because life’s too short,” reads a sign on the wall. A giant interactive recipe book provides inspiration for shoppers. To help their customers get started, Ikea is sells many of the products needed to bake at home, including a muffin tin, measuring spoons and Ikea’s brand of lemon flavoured muffin mix.

Other areas of the pop-up are reminiscent of Ikea’s showrooms, giving pop-up goers inspiration for things they can use in their homes. And if shoppers happen to see something they like, they're able to buy over 50 different Ikea products on site. Wooden spoons available at the shop’s entrance are enabled with RFID technology, meaning as shoppers wander through each room they can tap their spoons to various products to add them to their shopping lists. There’s a checkout where shoppers can pay and pick up their merchandise.

Another feature of the pop-up space is a VR experience, using Google Cardboard viewers, which shoppers can use to view four different Ikea kitchen options.

Alongside Ikea’s utensils and furniture, food products are peppered throughout the pop-up. Its popular in-store restaurants have become an integral part of Ikea's business. According to Sjöstrand, roughly eight million Canadians eat at an Ikea restaurant every year.

And while the restaurants may be best-known for its iconic Swedish meatballs, Sjöstrand is quick to emphasize the high quality of its seafood products, which are MSC certified.

Aside from the meatballs, Sjöstrand says Ikea’s salmon and herring are the most popular items ordered at its restaurants.

Ikea will be serving food samples to its pop-up attendees, and culinary students from George Brown will be doing demos using Ikea food products on Saturdays.

Ikea is promoting the pop-up through OOH ads, including TSAs, murals and street chalk artwork. Outside the pop-up, Ikea meatball carts will be sampling meat and veggie balls.

The pop-up runs from May 13 to May 26.

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