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Ikea Ecosystem

Much like Apple, Ikea‘s products have spawned an ecosystem of supporting accessories, reports Katarina Gustafsson in Bloomberg Businessweek (2/24/14). "For shoppers with extra cash and a desire to stand out, growing numbers of entrepreneurs are offering add-ons to gussy up Ikea’s ubiquitous offerings." For example, Stockholm-based Bemz now "sells coverings for Ikea couches, chairs and beds in 35 countries." The idea is to add a little more pizzaz to the pieces.

"Our goal is not to compete with Ikea on price," says Bemz founder Lesley Pennington. "Our goal is to offer an individual, unique product for a mass-market product like an Ikea sofa." This is fine with Ikea, because it apparently "helps drive sales and loyalty among customers." Retail consultant Lena Larsson says the symbiosis works because Ikea is such a strong brand to begin with. "Other companies are riding on the strong brand whose image is, so to speak, spilling over to them."

It certainly is working out for Bemz, whose "revenue last year increased about 20 percent, to $8 million." Lesley founded Bemz about 10 years ago, after working for (guess who?) Apple, "where she helped create a panoply of extras around the company’s products." Other outfits, such as Prettypegs, "sells legs for Ikea couches and chairs," and Superfront "makes facings and tops for Ikea cabinets." MyIkea, meanwhile, "sells stickers for customizing Ikea furniture."