No.23 The IKEA Effect on Shopping Sustainably

No.23 The IKEA Effect on Shopping Sustainably

How can employers use the IKEA effect to encourage sustainability?

The IKEA effect is a cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. The name derives from the name of Swedish manufacturer and furniture retailer IKEA, which sells many furniture products that require assembly.

Having customers do most of the work, feel great about it, and at the same time believe they have helped in some environmentally friendly way is a Holy Grail for more and more companies.

In 1950, General Mills wanted ideas on how to sell more of its Betty Crocker brand of instant cake mixes. It put psychologist Ernest Dichter on the case. His advice: Replace powdered eggs in the cake mix with the requirement to add fresh eggs. All-instant cake mix makes baking too easy. It undervalues the labour and skill of the cake maker. Give the baker more ownership in the result. And the rest is history.

Think of ways you can make use of the IKEA effect as part of your sustainability initiatives:

Employ shoppers

Giving shoppers a little bit (not too much) of work to do helps them take ownership of your brand and the final environmentally friendly result you desire.

Don’t be too convenient

You could give the final solution straight out of the box, but shoppers will value it more if they have to do a token ‘something’, like mix in an egg (and compost the eggshell).

Move over ready meals

Signs are that the “ready-to-create” meal kits, consisting of pre-packaged raw ingredients you prepare and cook yourself are the future. But work with shoppers to minimise and recycle the additional packaging.

While many retailers focus their efforts on speedy deliveries and ready-made, convenient solutions, the Ikea effect suggests the secret to more environmentally friendly success may be to make things a little more challenging.

Found this blog post useful?

Why not get a FREE brand review to boost your brand communications...

About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

If you think there is value in this article then please, please share it, thank you.

Phillip Adcock

Phillip Adcock CMRS
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

Phillips Signature

Explore our Brainsights

Behavioural Science & Shopper Psychology Workshops

Are you ready to unlock the power of Behavioural Science & transform your business with Shopper Psychology-based insights?

Read Story

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Cans get Revamp

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar cans are to be revamped with an alleged ‘sleek’ smooth new look. But why has Coke done this? Here’s some interesting science...

Read Story

Get the latest brainsights straight to your email box

We will never share your email address with third parties.
By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy and provide consent to receive updates from our company.