September 06, 2004

The Mysteries of Globalization

One thing that's never failed to amaze me about IKEA is its consistency. I've been in ten or so IKEA stores over three different countries (the US, Germany, and Sweden), and they're all eerily alike -- the same products with the same goofy names, the same colors, the same signage with the same fonts, the same restaurant selling Swedish food in the center of each store, the same fights for dominance out in the parking lot.

But tonight we discovered a chink in the facade of sameness. When we were in Hamburg, I purchased a sheepskin at the Schnelsen IKEA for Scout to use as a dog rug. In Germany, this sheepskin is known as a LUDDE, and it sells for 34.95 Euro. In the USA, however, the very same skeepskin is known as a RENS, and sells for $19.95 -- less than half the price! Why the name change? Was LUDDE deemed to be too close to a rude word in American English? Why the vast price difference?

German IKEA shoppers can at least be thankful that they don't live in Italy, where the LUDDE costs 62 Euro!

(Actually, IKEAs aren't totally homogenous -- the Hamburg IKEA, for instance, had a "dog parking" area at the front of the store, with water bowls. You'd never see that in America, simply because nobody would think to bring their dog along on a shopping trip. Also, since few German homes have built-in closets, the Schrank -- wardrobe -- section is much larger in German stores. One IKEA that I drove past near Oslo, Norway was painted red and white instead of the familar Swedish blue and yellow; I'd assumed that this was because the Norwegians wouldn't be fond of seeing a giant building decked out in the national colors of their former rulers and occupiers, so the company chose a more Norwegian-focused palette instead, but this page seems to suggest that it's simply because IKEA's corporate colors used to be red and white, until a worldwide conversion to a more Sweden-centric paint scheme.)

Posted by Kevin at September 6, 2004 01:18 AM

Hello Kevin,

you asked if LUDDE could be a rude word in English. In fact it's a rude word in german. Lude (only with one d but still funny) is Hamburg slang for pimp

Hamburg, Germany

Posted by: Peter at September 16, 2004 01:16 PM
Sadly, Further Comments Have Been Disabled ...

Due to a never-ending flood of comment spam, we've decided to disable comments for all blog entries past a certain age. If you'd like to comment on a closed blog entry, say something in one of the newer entries or E-mail the author.

-- Apologies, The Management