Scottish police raided a secret IKEA hide-and-seek game with more than 3,000 people. According to The Scotsman, a tip led the Glasgow store to call the police and nab "groups of youth who looked like they were only there for the game." The game was, obviously, not what late IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad intended.

Sometimes, though, it is about working with what wasn't intended. Sometimes, the best business ideas don't come from you, but from your audience.

They often know best

You have your vision, and your customers have how they want to be served. The two aren't always in unison, but it is worth paying attention.  As I say in a recent TED Talk, you have to let your idea out into the wild and often your audience will tell you what they need.

For instance, Disneyland, Disneyworld and other Walt Disney parks have had a complicated relationship with its adult fans - many of whom, increasingly, aren't coming with kids. It also surely realized that adults eat more than kids, can drink alcohol and spend more disposable income. Programs like Disney After Hours are designed with the childless or childfree adult in mind.

How much is a basic adult Disney World ticket? About $124. Imagine all the money the theme parks were turning away before they embraced these non-traditional visitors.

Again, this probably is not what founder Walt Disney intended. The audience showed the company how it wanted to be served, though, and the company adapted accordingly.

They can tell you what they need

What is phenomenal is that this IKEA hide-and-seek trend isn't new:

The trend for using Ikea for hide and seek started in Belgium in 2014 and spread rapidly around Europe, with Ikea bosses initially allowing the events. In Holland an astonishing 32,000 Facebook users signed up for a game in Eindhoven, as well as 19,000 in Amsterdam and 12,000 in Utrecht.

According to The Scotsman, IKEA shut down the parties in 2015 citing health and safety concerns.

The challenges are valid, but so was the opportunity: Imagine having more than 30,000 people interested in coming to your store and being surrounded by your products, but turning them away because the scale seemed too unmanageable. At a time when IKEA is reportedly losing customers, it sounds like an investment worth making.

It's worth asking: What customers are you turning away because they don't fit your vision? That could be the answer to your next financial breakthrough.

Published on: Sep 12, 2019
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