Ronn Torossian
Ronn Torossian
Almost everyone has purchased IKEA furniture at one time. The multinational retailer has long been a source for inexpensive, durable furniture. Students, young marrieds, and people just starting out especially love a good deal, and a trip to IKEA can include tasting samples or a meal and playtime for kids too.

The IKEA brand has been trusted by families buying furniture to help fill their children’s rooms for decades. However, in recent months this has changed, and IKEA has been in crisis mode.

Recently, IKEA made the news when six children died after their Malm dressers tipped over and crushed them. IKEA knew there was an issue with the dressers but until recently did nothing to correct the problem. For a company that has always demanded high service and honesty from its employees, it makes one wonder what happened to Corporate Social Responsibility or even corporate transparency.

When the issue with the dressers first came out, little was said to the public. IKEA finally went public, offering free anchors for the dressers. This was not heavily publicized. The advertisement told customers where they could send to get the anchor, but they were slow sending them. On many social media sites, consumers complained that they could get the anchors faster on Amazon. IKEA finally offered the anchors for free in stores where they could be picked up by the customer, something they should have done in the first place. This makes good marketing sense: get customers through the doors, even if it is to correct a problem, and they’re more likely to make another purchase.

After many months, IKEA finally offered a full refund to those who purchased the Malm dresser between 2002 and 2016. Those who purchased the dresser before 2002 could get a half refund as a store credit.

The problem was IKEA originally wanted the dressers to be returned to an IKEA store. This just didn’t work for all customers, as many lived too far away. Finally, they set up a program where IKEA would pick up the dressers from customers’ homes. IKEA also finally took the Malm dressers off the market as a result of an agreement with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

IKEA should have been honest and upfront with the public. IKEA should have then told customers what was being done to resolve the issue, instead of going on TV and other media outlets to relay information to customers. Admit you made a mistake, keep the public informed at all times on how you are handling the situation.

For IKEA, what could have been a small crisis rapidly escalated to a major problem. For a company that prides themselves on making things easy, it didn’t make this crisis go away easily.


Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR, a leading independent PR agency.