If you feel like you can never leave IKEA with just the thing you came for, it's not just you — and it's no accident. Those sneaky Swedes (and most major retailers) have long been perfecting the art of the impulse purchase, and if you have ever visited a concept store, you were one of their guinea pigs.
Earlier this year, our intrepid writer Julia Brenner broke down the science of how Target and other retailers use everything from psychology to physical store layout to get you to spend more, which she detailed in her real life experiment in resisting temptation at the big box store.
Last week, writer and "neuromarketeer" Tim Zuidgeest chronicled the science and experimental retail methods behind IKEA's own brand of marketing genius — its ability to separate us from our hard-earned dollars — in this first person, "real life experiments" piece published on The Next Web.
"IKEA analyzes our behavior for good reasons: the furniture giant wants to know the effect of subtle (and sometimes less subtle) changes in the environment on our buying behavior. Recently I've been visiting the store in Delft more often. Making it easier for me to spot those subtle changes (the experiments). The location of the restaurant, the signs, and even the public bathroom — which seemed to be relocated (which made me extremely curious)."
As an expert in the psychology of marketing himself, Zuidgeest points out six of the major ways in which IKEA uses simple tricks to get your brain to want to buy more. Here are a few of the big ones:
- Built-in babysitting at Småland, to distract those kids from distracting you.
- The pencils (yes, pencils). Those maps and #2s aren't just a memory tool—writing things down is an intention, a commitment to buy.
- Starting with the small stuff. IKEA puts the "nice to have" items (candle holders, dish towels) first on the path, so you add those to your cart, effectively breaking the seal.
As they say, knowledge is power, so better to know the tricks so that you're more apt to avoid them.
Read the full essay over on The Next Web.