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Marketing Technology Pixels Instead of Pine

Swedish company IKEA releases a 300- plus- page catalog each year featuring its furniture in fashionably modern room settings. The 2013 catalog comes in 62 different versions for 43 countries. IKEA’s photo shoots for the catalog take place in one of Europe’s largest studios— 94,000 square feet— which employs almost 300 photographers, interior designers, carpenters, and others involved in making each scene just perfect. The process is very labor- intensive and wasteful because rooms are built up and torn down and often thrown into a dumpster after the photo shoot. The catalog typically consumes 70 percent of the company’s marketing budget each year. However, all that is being reduced thanks to technology. IKEA’s catalog is going digital. Instead of a couch or bed or table or entire room, many items depicted in the catalogs are now merely pixels instead of pine. This year, 12 percent of the content online, in catalogs, and in brochures is not even real, and that proportion will increase to 25 percent next year. Using 3- D graphics to create the scenes, IKEA can cut costs and more easily manipulate imagery from one country to the next. Whereas Americans might prefer darker woods, a given living room can be shown with lighter woods for Japanese consumers. Don’t expect to find any fake people or pets, however, because 3- D figures tend to look like ghosts.

1. Visit (Links to an external site.) and compare a catalog from one country to that of another. What differences do you notice? Can you discern that some photos are 3- D mockups instead of real rooms with furniture?
2. Note the prices of some of the products. Convert some of the foreign prices to U. S. dollars and compare them to the prices in the U. S. catalog. Are the prices equivalent? Are they consistently higher or lower?

Be thorough when answering these questions. Responses to questions should be well thought out, address all concerns raised in question .
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