How Ikea and OMD enticed homebound Hong Kongers to upgrade their habitats

With a fun chatbot-led quiz that sorted people into eight 'spirit animal' personas and led to curated online catalogs, the retailer and OMD exceeded KPIs and reduced cost per visit by 43%.

How Ikea and OMD enticed homebound Hong Kongers to upgrade their habitats

For the launch of its annual catalog this year, Ikea Hong Kong and media agency OMD knew a business-as-usual approach was not going to work, according to Crystal Mak, OMD's director on the account.

With Hong Kongers mostly confined to their homes—and feeling in some ways like caged animals—the companies also saw an opportunity to inspire people to upgrade the 'habitats' that they suddenly found themselves living in 24/7 for weeks on end.

In a use of segmentation that was unprecedented for the brand in the Hong Kong market, the companies created a curated, individualised interactive catalog experience. Social-media posts, supported by online ads, lured people into conversation with a chatbot.


The chatbot asked questions that sorted people into one of eight animal-themed personas, based on demographics and living situation. Once assigned a spirit-animal avatar, people were directed into a curated product selection on the Ikea website.

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During the campaign, the team is working on optimising messaging and creative to improve performance.

"We are optimising to see which target segments are driving a better CPV [cost per visitation]," Mak told Campaign Asia-Pacific, "which means they are more effective at driving traffic to the website. Then we will ask the client to fine-tune the creative message or to refresh or roll out more different creatives, to better target those well-performing target audiences."

For example, a pig avatar based on couples has proved popular, perhaps because couples are spending more time at home together and want to make their living space more conducive to romance, Mak said.

The campaign's core KPI was the number of visits, and the team exceeded that quickly, according to the agency. Compared with earlier campaigns, the effort has also delivered a 43% reduction in CPV, a 175% increase in clickthrough rate and a 173% increase in the social-post engagement rate.

"Our mission is to create a better everyday life for many people by assisting customers in creating an environment that meets both their emotional and functional needs. In 2021 we move to focus more on online catalogues coupled with social activation games, offering our customers inspiration embedded with individual insights." Nicole Hsu, the brand's external communication manager.

Ikea's ongoing research into what consumers are looking for, executed with weekly questionairres, is an important factor underpinning not only this campaign but the retailer's overall efforts, according to OMD. Instead of making assumptions about what people need, Ikea is gathering data straight from consumers on a regular basis, allowing it to make better judgement calls. 

The brand has also changed its media mix. "They usually select some high-reach and high-affinity channels to drive visitation," Mak said. "Before the pandemic, they do have some offline media placement. But because of the current situation, the whole media budget goes through online. So we just make the budget more focused on the digital programmatic ads, and some mass channels like news apps to run the impactful display ads to drive visitation."

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