Economy Furniture × Psychology = Success
Founded in Sweden in 1943, IKEA has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008. Not only its affordable price but also its modern and stylish design attract consumers across 30 countries. But what’s the secret behind the success of this economic furniture giant?
The key to success may be its marketing strategies based on basic human behavior, or psychology in other words. How so? The visual content above takes you to an IKEA tour, focusing on the following four psychological effects:
- Gruen Effect
- Scarcity Effect
- Priming Effect
- IKEA Effect.
So, what are these effects? And how exactly this economy furniture giant utilizes these psychological tricks?
Gruen Effect: That “Wow” Feelings at Entry
When you enter an IKEA store, you will be overwhelmed by too much information thrown at you. Surrounded by intentionally confusing layouts of multiple colours, styles, lights, and textures, you would lose track of your original intensions: “What am I buying?”
Most likely, you pick up items not listed on your original shopping list. And such items are often small and inexpensive; for instance candles, napkins or other seasonal ornaments. Or they can be lint rollers, squeegees, spray bottles and so on, which are not urgently necessary in most cases.
Scarcity Effect: That “Now or Never” Feelings
In the IKEA showroom, you basically walk one-way, following arrows guiding you through the store. Since it is one-way traffic, you constantly get this feeling while passing through displays, “Oh, I may miss this item if I don’t grab this now.” It is simply because humans place a higher value on an object that is scarce. As a result, you are likely to take the items in front of you impulsively, without thinking over whether you actually need them or not.
Priming Effect: That “Yummy Meatballs” Feelings
After finishing shopping, you encounter the IKEA food court that serves Swedish meatballs, along with small cakes and coffee. The olfactory and visual presentation of the food stimulates your appetite. Even if you are not that hungry, you end up with dropping by the food court. Then next time, if you liked the Swedish meatballs, you will come back to IKEA only to have meals. In fact, 30% of IKEA shoppers come to the stores just to eat.
In addition to the food court, IKEA also offers lighter options at IKEA Bistro. The bistro serves inexpensive snacks such as soft serves, hot dogs, and pastry items. Especially if you are with kids, they almost always love to munch these snacks! The Bistro has a small portion of IKEA meatballs. Tasting a small dish of meatballs may eventually bring you to the IKEA food court next time, and you would spend more money on IKEA meals.
IKEA Effect: That “I Made It!” Feelings
Coming back home, you now have to assemble the furniture you bought from IKEA. It sounds tiring but this self-assembly plays an essential role in the IKEA marketing. This psychological effect is so important for IKEA that it is named “the IKEA Effect.”
A 2011 Harvard Business School study identified this effect. The IKEA Effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. In other words, you find IKEA furniture more valuable just because you assembled it by yourself. The research stated:
labor alone can be sufficient to induce greater liking for the fruits of one’s labor: even constructing a standardized bureau, an arduous, solitary task, can lead people to overvalue their (often poorly constructed) creations.
Summing up: IKEA’s Psychological Strategies
People go to IKEA—to buy furniture, to get inspiration for room makeovers, to browse around, or to indulge in Swedish food. Whatever the reasons are, shoppers commonly buy more than planned. And that is because of this economy furniture retailer’s marketing ingenuity. From the moment when shoppers step in the store to the completion of furniture assembly, IKEA lets them feel special and makes them happy with IKEA magic.
More Infographics on Marketing
Just like IKEA, these companies’ marketing strategies are worth noting.