Swedish furniture giant IKEA takes the business of play very seriously. Its Lattjo range of games and toys is designed to appeal to almost all ages, spanning active indoor play and role play, music, a recipe book to inspire play and a mobile app that includes games to bring the world to life.
The LATTJO collection—inspired by insects, roots, animals and vegetation—is more than just a product SKU. It’s a platform that speaks to the brand’s belief that play is at the heart of the home, family life and community.
Or as IKEA puts it, “LATTJO is all about inspiring young and old to play together—all the time, everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re 7 or 97, this is a play collection for everyone… The thoroughly modern collection of toys designed to help parents and children play together. The collection is a mix of classic games and more modern toys, both analogue and digital.”
“Play is a universal language, cross borders, cross generations,” says Nicolas Cortolezzis, the product developer behind the Lattjo collection. “Through play we connect with each other and build relations – having fun at the same time. And it’s just as important for adults as for children. Research shows that the joy of doing something without a specific purpose, like playing, releases stress and fuel our creativity and imagination.”
IKEA teamed with DreamWorks Animation to showcase the Lattjo characters in a branded entertainment series of 25 digital shorts that are being released on IKEA’s YouTube channel, and which are also on the Lattjo mobile app.
“We know that the world wants and needs more play,” stated Maria Thörn, Range Manager at Children’s IKEA. “In our research we’ve seen that 50% of all adults want to find their inner child, and that both children and parents want to play more together.”
To better understand how playtime works these days—and the challenges it’s facing from digital devices and other forms of entertainment (and distraction), IKEA surveyed nearly 30,000 parents and children from 12 countries to better grasp the current state of play worldwide, expanding on its 2009 field research into play — once again, representing the biggest global study on the topic of families, children and play.
The latest 2015 Play Report includes insights confirming that parents today find it difficult to carve out quality playtime with their children and feel guilty about it; they often feel anxious about safety but don’t want to be overprotective; and more than half surveyed realize that play today includes smartphones, tablets, game consoles and computers.
Defying the notion that kids want to be glued to devices all day, one finding, for example, is that eight out of 10 children said they would prefer to play with friends than watch TV (19%) or use the internet (17%).
“Our work is to make things better and that’s why we’re always curious about new ideas, new techniques and new collaborations,” said Marcus Engman, Design Manager at IKEA, about how it’s applying these insights on play to the products (and advice) it offers to customers. “This specific collaboration is exciting because it brings new life to our design, making the experience of IKEA products bigger, broader and better.”
“You can develop a product, but the whole idea is to make us to play more, and to create a more playful mindset,” said Cindy Anderson, business area manager for IKEA responsible for developing children’s products, to Fast Company. “To accomplish that, storytelling is an important complement to engage people and inspire behavioral change.”
In a playful marketing campaign to promote the campaign in its home country, IKEA installed digital interactive billboards in the Stockholm subway inviting people to stop and play.
In another sign of its commitment to the power of play, the retailer is promoting its annual Soft Toys for Education holiday campaign. For every soft toy bought from Nov. 1st to Dec. 26th, the IKEA Foundation is donating money to children’s education projects through UNICEF and Save the Children.
IKEA shoppers can also buy toys that were designed by kids, with proceeds helping other children. The Kids Designing for a Good Cause co-creation contest invited kids worldwide to doodle and design toys that IKEA has now brought to life this holiday season.
The first-ever IKEA FAMILY global drawing competition has resulted in 10 toys designed by kids worldwide, which can now be purchased in its stores—just look for the SAGOSKATT soft toys series—with a portion of the sales benefitting its not-for-profit partners.
The background: In 2014, IKEA Family invited all their customers’ children to design their dream soft toy. After receiving thousands of wonderful contributions, ten winners were chosen. The winning soft toys in the competition became patterns for the new SAGOSKATT collection. This year, the drawing competition returns, giving even more children the opportunity to design their dream soft toy for a good cause.
“These soft toys are truly fun and imaginative, but they also have a special meaning. As IKEA Foundation donates €1 per sold soft toy to UNICEF and Save the Children, this means that children are helping children to build a better future for themselves,” stated IKEA product developer Bodil Fritjofsson in a press release.
Since 2003, the IKEA Soft Toys for Education program has been focusing on providing quality education to vulnerable children living in poverty in developing countries. To date, it has improved education for more than 11 million children in 46 countries and raised $102 million (€77 million).
“We can only overcome poverty if we make education a priority for all children. We especially need to invest in a quality education for girls, children with disabilities and children from minority communities. No child should be left behind,” commented IKEA Foundation CEO Per Heggenes.
“All children should have the opportunity to go to school,” added IKEA US president Lars Petersson. “We continue to put our hearts into selling IKEA soft toys so that children in the most poverty stricken areas can benefit by getting a good education. We also couldn’t be more pleased to include children helping children with this year’s soft toy design competition. We hope our US customers – and all the world – will support this program so more children will have the opportunity to continue their education and help build a brighter future.”