“Ikea” in India

Although Ikea stores have yet to arrive in India, its catalogs are sold by
street hawkers and bookstores in many major cities….

When Arundhati Ray redecorates her home, she picks up an Ikea catalog to
search for that perfect piece of furniture….she clips a photo of the desired item, which typically includes measurements,
and then takes it to a local carpenter.

The welfare economics of Ikea knockoffs in India, like those of pharmaceutical knockoffs, are not clear-cut.  On the surface, Ikea appears to be losing out to design theft but India’s emerging middle class generates media attention far in excess of its numbers.  India is still a very poor country that probably could not currently support the low-price, high volume Ikea model.  Thus, knockoffs allow a few Indian consumers to take advantage of good design and Ikea loses little to nothing.

Thanks to Carl Close for the pointer.


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