Top 5 Facts about IKEA

Script written by Nathan Sharp It's the place to go when you want a piece of build-it-yourself furniture that will test the strength of your relationship. Welcome to WatchMojo's top 5 facts. In today's installment, we're looking at the most interesting facts about the international home furnishing giant IKEA. Special thanks to our user christo for submitting the idea using our interactive suggestion tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 5 Facts About Ikea


It's the place to go when you want a piece of build-it-yourself furniture that will test the strength of your relationship. Welcome to WatchMojo's top 5 facts. In today's installment, we're looking at the most interesting facts about the international home furnishing giant IKEA.

#5: IKEA’s Furniture Names Are Not Just Gibberish

In North America, at least, many of us have a good time poking fun at the funny sounding names of IKEA’s products. But IKEA actually has a system for naming those things! For example, sofas and coffee tables are named after locations in Sweden, IKEA’s founding country, and dining tables and chairs are named after places in Finland. Some furnishings are even titled after occupations, like their bookcases, and bathroom furnishing are named for rivers and lakes. This is because IKEA’s founder, Ingvar Kamprad, is dyslexic, and he found it easier to identify the items by naming them after existing words and locations rather than their more traditional titles.

#4: IKEA Is Sensitive Toward the LGBT Community...Usually

While socially progressive advertising probably isn’t the first thing you think of when you think of IKEA, the company has been both acclaimed and criticized for its inclusion of gay and transgender people. The company ran what’s considered to be the very first commercial in 1994 featuring a gay couple. This was met with terrorist threats towards the company, forcing them to pull the ad. Regardless, they have continued to include gay and lesbian characters in their ad campaigns ever since. They've also featured transgender individuals in their commercials, and while many are respectful, some are arguably less so, like a Thai ad in 2013 that brought on accusations that IKEA was perpetuating stereotypes.

#3: Part of IKEA’s History is Pretty Sketchy

While IKEA has certainly cultivated a welcoming image, some of their work history has been less than progressive. In the past, their items have contained toxic chemicals, like lead in their drinking glasses and formaldehyde in their wooden furniture. If that wasn't enough, IKEA controlled production facilities in communist-controlled East Germany during the 1980s, and a portion of the employees at these facilities were political prisoners, resulting in the use of forced labor. Apparently, the practise of using forced East German labor to reduce production costs was widespread at the time. IKEA seem fairly transparent about how they’ve made changes to phase out toxic chemicals in their products, the use of slave labor is a little harder to recover from.

#2: The IKEA Catalog Is Distributed More than the Bible

IKEA is bigger than Jesus! Well, maybe not, but maybe! Either way they certainly are popular. After all, the company uses 1% of the world’s wood supply every year for their furniture, so we can’t say we’re that surprised. IKEA’s world-famous catalog accounts for 70% of their marketing budget, and is created in their photo studio, which is the largest in northern Europe. It's hard to pinpoint exactly how many Bibles are distributed every year, but it’s estimated to be around 100 million. But the IKEA catalogue out-distributes the Bible by an ungodly amount. More than 210 million copies are printed and distributed on an annual basis and are translated into 30 languages across 44 different countries.

#1: IKEA Is Technically a Charitable Foundation

As if forced labor wasn't bad enough, IKEA is able to keep their prices so low because they don't pay nearly as much in taxes as their competitors– because technically, IKEA is charity organization– and the second wealthiest charity in the world at that. Its corporate structure is incredibly elaborate, but in a nutshell, IKEA is owned by private company INGKA Holding, which is owned by Dutch non-profit Stichting Ingka Foundation… which IKEA’s founder established in 1982 as a tax-exempt organization. [1] Since IKEA is owned by a non-profit, charitable organization (which are taxed far less stringently than for-profit corporations), they are able to severely skimp on their taxes. Reportedly, they pay as little as 3.5% tax on their profits.

So, what do you think about IKEA now? Do its positive qualities outweigh its questionable ones? For more bigger-than-Jesus top tens and the-devil-made-me-do-it top fives, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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