Need some insurance, or sustainable energy?

IKEA, the giant Swedish furniture store famous for its low prices and DIY-assembly tables, has become the hallmark of a college student or recent grad’s apartment.

And with a 2013 Forbes brand value of $11.5 billion dollars, it’s clear that IKEA’s business model is a profitable one.

What’s more, their money has allowed them to wade into several different sectors outside the furniture realm. IKEA is helping to illustrate that companies can do more, and that we should expect companies to think outside the box.

Here are two major examples:

1. Insurance

Yes, IKEA has waded into the discussion about affordable healthcare, and is taking a stand. The company is now offering low-cost pregnancy and child insurance for its loyalty card-holding customers in Sweden. They also have plans to offer home insurance (and expand to other locations) in the months to come.

For people who wouldn’t otherwise have protection against health issues related to childbirth, this could be an incredible opportunity. Imagine if we could pick up health care coverage in the checkout line as easily as picking up a gift card. This move by IKEA is a way to rethink insurance as something more tangible, efficient, and affordable.

2. Solar panels

While this project isn’t fully operational yet, it’s possible that soon you’ll be able to buy solar panels at your local IKEA store, in addition to your Swedish meatballs and DIY-shelf.

This addition has been tested in the UK since 2013, and it’s been highly successful. Currently, the company has plans to expand the project to the Netherlands and to Switzerland, but there’s talk that the US or Canada could be next.

But IKEA’s commitment to green energy is more than just a passing marketing interest: sustainability has become one of IKEA’s main corporate missions. The company owns 49 wind turbines in the US, and has over 550,000 solar panels already installed on buildings worldwide. Nearly 40 US stores are run by solar power. The CEO and IKEA Group President, Peter Agnefjäll, along with IKEA’s Chief Sustainability Officer Steve Howard, joined in the People’s Climate March this past September. IKEA also plans by 2020 to make more energy than they consume, meaning that they may be able to sell the excess.

These goals are big, and it’s an important reminder that all companies should make (and work to achieve) big social and environmental goals. It’s no longer okay for a company to be interested solely in profits—and IKEA is taking that one step further with these high-aiming strategic moves.


What does this mean for big businesses of the future? Will there be more economic pressure for stores to do as IKEA, and to become “one stop shops” for all consumers’ needs?

We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, it’s exciting to see companies with powerful financial abilities help make values-based purchasing decisions more accessible. We should encourage all companies to step up in this way.


Kelsey Ryan is the editor of Groundswell’s magazine. She’s a linguist, fledgling Tolkien scholar, knitter, Oxford comma proponent, and firm believer in the use of stories for social good. Explore her website, or connect on Twitter: @kryanlion.