Byravee Iyer
Jan 9, 2015

Ikea pushes sustainability message in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Ikea is renewing its sustainability drive, ‘Brighter lives for refugees’, for the second year. The initiative aims to provide lighting to refugee camps, improving safety for refugee children and families supported by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Ikea partners with UNHCR for sustainability drive
Ikea partners with UNHCR for sustainability drive

The Swedish retail giant also plans to include consumers in the initiative by encouraging them to switch to sustainable lighting. In Singapore, the company will provide a light bulb exchange for the first 3,000 loyalty cardholders. Customers visiting Ikea can also dispose of their old light bulbs into recycling bins.

The campaign, which started in 2014, has raised approximately $9 million. This year, the company hopes to raise close to $12 million.

By 2016, Ikea aims to sell only LED light bulbs, which are more environmentally friendly than both incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs. Meanwhile, the company hopes to benefit 380,000 refugees in Jordan, Ethiopia, Chad and Bangladesh.

Additionally, Ikea Singapore will donate proceeds from sales at its restaurants during Earth Hour to WWF.

“We take a longer-term approach and select causes and projects that are self-sustainable,” said Jonathan Spampinato, head of communications and strategic planning for Ikea Foundation. Every grant from the Ikea Foundation has mutually agreed terms and indicators that have to be met by partners, he added. “We trust our partners, but we’re tough on them.”

The company’s biggest challenge is getting consumer interest. “We’re a democracy and can’t force them to do things," he said. "We have to create things that resonate with them.”

That’s where marketing and advertising fits in. Sustainability is increasingly a significant topic for brands. In 2014, Ikea spent 3 per cent of its profit on sustainability efforts. Last year, Ikea released a TV spot in the UK entirely devoted to sustainability. More recently, Unilever debuted its first corporate brand campaign, part of its ‘Project Sunlight’ CSR initiative, in the UK, the US, Brazil, India and Indonesia.

“For us, advertising sustainability efforts is critical when it comes to getting consumers to buy in,” Spampinato said. As part of this, Ikea Foundation is also heavily focused on social media. “Social media gives us fantastic reach," he said. "We post at least three times a week and also require our partners’ commitment to communicating the campaigns.”


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