The Ikea Phenomenon

My boyfriend and I needed some new pegs to hang out the washing with. He is a particular fan of the ones from Ikea so we decided it was time to head out there into the Ikea jungle (yes, I call it a jungle) and make a purchase. It was planned and didn’t exactly break the bank at $4, they seem to be very good quality and last a while. Anyway I digress, this isn’t intended to be a review of a box of washing pegs.

Ikea is not a place we visit often and we actually don’t like going there. It’s always busy, hard to get a parking spot and everyone seems to walk extremely slowly through the maze. On this particular occasion however, I found the experience interesting as I began to look at thins from a minimalist perspective. Here we were in one of the most successful global chain stores and we were surrounded buy people who were sporting large bags and trolleys of stuff. Stuff that they probably didn’t actually need (well most of it anyway).

This is a cleverly designed store, its basic layout essentially forces you to walk through every area of the store in the hope you will find something you want to buy but don’t actually need. The sheer volume of people we saw who would constantly stop and look at things they clearly weren’t there for but seemed to consider buying. The amount of ‘oh we should get this’ you could hear was amazing.  People also seem to actually be falling for the the store’s facade of ‘buy me’. There were also many children walking around clutching soft toys their parents didn’t seem to have the ability to say no to. These toys were cleverly placed in easy to access tubs in the children’s section for little hands to easily grab and scream over. Nothing like retailers starting them young!

One the other side of the coin it’s a cruel, cruel world for parents who must walk through this section in order to be able to leave the store- and definitely not empty handed.

Once you do finally arrive at the end of the maze, you are greeted with the discount food section designed to part you with the last few remaining dollars and cents you have left after emptying your pockets for mountains of useless stuff at the registers. At least it’s affordable with $1 for a hot dog, as let’s be real that’s probably all many people have left after their overwhelming shopping experience.

It’s definitely not the sort of store you can duck in and out of quickly, it’s designed that way and from a retailer’s perspective it’s really, really clever. As much as I don’t like it, I admire whoever came up with the concept because it’s a very easy way to manipulate shoppers into buying things they just don’t need.

By the time we reached the end, all we had in our hands we a box of pegs. We got what we came for. Nothing more and nothing less. Well, and a $1 hot dog for him but that’s always planned…

But this is the important lesson of the story, only go in to buy what you went in for. Ignore everything else. Don’t open any cabinets, test out any mattresses or sit in any chairs. Unless your in the market for it, stay well away. Being conscious of retailer’s ploys to make you spend makes all the difference and this is where critical thinking skills come into play. I find if you are able to understand how a retailer is trying to manipulate you it’s easier to fight the urge to spend.

How do you make sure you only come out with what you went in for?