Home » The IKEA Effect: Don’t Make Consumers Feel Too Convenient | A Study Says

The IKEA Effect: Don’t Make Consumers Feel Too Convenient | A Study Says

by nadlia
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LMany retailers today are committed to simplifying the consumption process, encouraging electronic payment, and providing various convenient and fast-food services, but from the perspective of consumer psychology, customers have just the opposite mentality. The secret to a product’s success is to make it more complex and inconvenient, the more challenging it is, the more attractive it is.

As early as the 1950s, the American food company General Mills wanted to explore how to increase the sales of its instant cake brand Betty Crocker, so it commissioned psychologist Ernest Dichter, known as the “father of motivation research”, to conduct research.

Dichter’s suggestion was that General Mills needed to change its quick cake recipe, not because the original recipe wasn’t good enough, but because it was too good. The instant cake developed at the beginning, because all the mixed powder was used, made the production process too simple. After modification, the egg powder in the mixed powder was removed, and the user was required to make the cake by himself. Add fresh eggs. For cake manufacturers, the labor requirements and production specifications of the new recipe are actually lower, but consumers are more willing to buy this less convenient product.

The reason is that in the consumption process of an instant cake, the extra egg-beating work makes their participation higher.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) pointed out that as early as 1935, another food company, P. Duff and Sons, had successfully developed and patented an instant cake mix recipe that required the addition of fresh eggs. The patent document at the time mentioned that both housewives and mass consumers seem to prefer to use fresh eggs. It is psychologically unwise to use dried or powdered eggs.

According to Laura Shapiro in “The Oven Thing: Reimagining American Dinner in the 1950s,” adding eggs could actually convince some women who themselves were quite resistant to quick cakes. In part, they felt that being able to add their own fresh eggs would at least make the cake taste better.

Dichter’s psychological observations of consumer behavior have, more than half a century later, become an established marketing strategy. It saves time and even more effort for consumers in the consumption process, but increases their satisfaction with the product. This kind of consumption strategy has another more representative name today: “IKEA effect (Ikea effect)”.

Requiring consumers to take furniture parts home and assemble them by themselves is a feature of Swedish homeware manufacturer IKEA. In a 2012 paper in the academic journal Journal of Consumer Psychology, a paper co-authored by Michael Norton, Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely was the first to mention the so-called “IKEA effect”: labor alone is enough to make people more obsessed with the fruits of their labor.

They believe that the main reason for the sharp increase in the sales of General Mills’ instant cakes in the last century after reformulating the formula is because consumers feel that they “achieve certain tasks while paying labor.” In order to test this consumption phenomenon, they conducted a series of experiments, including asking participants to assemble IKEA boxes, origami, and assemble Lego blocks. The results showed that participants always rated the things they assembled themselves higher than those assembled by others.

In another experiment, participants were asked to take out their own origami works and auction them together with the works of origami experts. The results also reflected that they tended to value their own work at a premium, thinking that it was worth more than the finished products of other participants, and even felt that the price was similar to that of origami experts.

Experiments have also shown that the “IKEA effect” has certain upper limits. While the product requires consumers to pay extra labor, it cannot exceed too much. If the production process takes too long or is too difficult for them to complete the task, consumers will be less willing to buy the product.

Moreover, whether the task can be completed is the biggest consideration that affects the customer’s consumption desire. When the participants were divided into two groups, one group was required to fully assemble the IKEA box, and the other group was terminated when the assembly was halfway. The former are more willing to pay for the finished product than the latter.

The “IKEA Effect”, which is widely used today, is theoretically closely related to many important behavioral economics.

First, there is the “endowment effect”. When people believe that the object belongs to them, it will increase its perceived value and feel that it is more precious. Numerous studies have shown that the value required to ask a person to give up an item they own is always higher than what they would be willing to bid for a similar item from someone else.

The second is “effort justification”. When sacrifices are required to achieve certain goals, people perceive that they can legitimately get a higher value for their efforts. For example, in one famous study, when women required embarrassing behaviors to gain approval to join a community, after they “joined”, they rated other members far higher than non-member women.

The rest is “personal preference”. This is mainly manifested in consumers’ attachment to a specific brand. When consumers personally participate in the production process, to a certain extent, it can be regarded as a kind of narcissism for personal taste. Some companies will increase consumers’ preference for brands by providing private customization options.

Nowadays, many food and grocery manufacturers know how to use the “IKEA effect” to satisfy customers’ desire for value. For example, there are more and more ready-made self-cooking food packages on the market, which specially provide pre-packaged ingredients so that consumers can enjoy the simple cooking process and realize the “three-in-one” consumption value: convenient and fast, and at the same time Healthy, you can also get the satisfaction of self-cooking.

Convenience is not everything, allowing customers to participate in the production, and even be responsible for most of the production process, instead makes them feel good, and in overcoming challenges, they have the joy of truly value for money.

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