Known for its simple Scandinavian design, affordable prices, and strangely beguiling meatballs, the international furniture behemoth IKEA has faced a bit of controversy as it expands into South Korea. Netizens there have complained that the company set its furniture prices higher in Korea—sometimes double the price of the same products in the US.
For example, the company priced its BESTÅ BURS TV bench at 449,000 won ($408) in Korea and $249 in the US, reported Korean news agency, Yonhap News. (Quartz confirmed that price difference.) Korea Real Time reported that the HEMNES bed frame cost 359,000 won ($330) in Korea while the US website priced the item at $179. (When Quartz checked on Nov. 19, the price of the bed frame on the US site was $339.)
IKEA’s worldwide retail sales (pdf) hit 29.2 billion euros ($36.6 billion) in 2013, and it plans to open its first store in South Korea by the end of the year. In a Nov. 19 press conference, IKEA Korea said the prices were appropriate, considering various taxes and tariffs as well as the foreign exchange rate. “It is very much market-specific pricing,” said IKEA sales manager Andrew Johnson, according to Yonhap News. “We will go ahead with the prices. We are offering the lowest price products.” Quartz has also reached out to IKEA for comment and will update the post when we get a response.
In the meantime, we took a look at how the prices of a few iconic IKEA products—the bright red KLIPPAN love seat, for example, and the LACK side table—stack up across the world. Overall, it was hard to discern a clear trend, though prices do indeed seem to vary considerably: