The IKEA Effect…


In my last blog post, I mentioned Adam Ferrier talking at the Southstart conference. Adam discussed the psychology behind changing behavior through advertising. A majority of advertising is focused on changing behavior, we either want someone to do something (such as buy a certain product) or stop doing something (such as stop smoking). The theory behind changing behavior through advertising comes from the psychological theory of cognitive dissonance, whereby individuals experience mental stress or discomfort when their thoughts, feelings and behaviors do not align. Therefore, for brands to change behavior we need all three aspects to change so the consumer feels comfortable with their decision. Therefore to change behavior, we also have to change the thoughts and feelings.

The IKEA effect illustrates the consumer’s cognitive bias, and hence changing feelings, towards a brand when they have an input into the creation. Individuals place an increased value on self-made products due to the effort they put in\. This leads consumers to overvalue their creation, even though they are often poorly made and experience frustration during the construction process (in the instance of flat-pack furniture!).   However, the IKEA effect does not end with flat-pack furniture, it extends to brands including Build-a-Bear and shake-and-bake pancakes. The IKEA effect is only demonstrated whereby the project is complete. It is not evident when individuals later destroy their project or have failed to complete the project. Therefore, for the effect to be evident the consumer must be capable of completing the task. And it is important to note consumers will pay a premium for the convenience a preassembled product however they put more value on a DIY project afterwards.

So what we have here is the consumer valuing the product more once they have constructed it for a lower price point rather than purchasing the convenience a preassembled product. However IKEA still need to get consumers to put the effort into constructing the furniture.   With these IKEA’s billboards, the brand have expressed their understanding of how frustrating it is to put together their flat-pack furniture. It is such a simple idea however it has a large impact and also demonstrates humor as the brand makes a joke out of itself.

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