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 perceive they have attained ‘greater value for money’ is the Holy Grail for companies.
In 1950, General Mills wanted ideas on how to sell more of its Betty Crocker brand of instant cake mixes. He 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 sure of the IKEA effect with your brand:
- Employ shoppers – giving shoppers a little bit (not too much) work to do helps them take ownership of you brand and the final result.
- Don’t be over-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 building flat-pack furniture from IKEA.
- Move over ready meals – the signs are there that the “ready-to-create” meal kit, consisting of pre-packaged raw ingredients you prepare and cook yourself are the future.
While many retailers focus their efforts on speedy deliveries and ready-made, convenient solutions, the IKEA effect suggests the secret to success may be to make things a little more challenging so that consumers achieve a sense of accomplishment.