Retail in Asia

In Sectors

IKEA’s products make shoppers blush in Thailand

Is Redalen a) a town in Norway b) a bed sold by Swedish furniture chain IKEA or c) something that sounds uncomfortably close to getting to third base in Thailand?

The answer, it turns out, is all three. IKEA is famous for using tongue-twisting Scandinavian names to help identify its sofas and beds. But as the big-box retailer expands into fast-growing new markets, it is discovering that those hard-to-pronounce names can also have other meanings, and that spells trouble in other languages.

Take Thailand, for example. IKEA launched a new superstore in the country late last year, its fifth largest in the world. It is packed with shoppers seeking bargains among the flat-pack, assemble-it-yourself furniture or wolfing down Swedish meatballs in the IKEA restaurant.