marketing, product-and-design

The IKEA Effect: Increasing Product Value

Much of IKEA’s success has to do with the fact that you are require to assemble their products. Not because they save on labor and shipping costs. But because it forces people to value the effort and work they put in.

Our account suggests that labor leads to increased valuation only when labor results in successful completion of tasks; thus when participants built and then destroyed their creations, or failed to complete them, the IKEA effect dissipated.

The “IKEA Effect”: When Labor Leads to Love

How are you helping customers succeed? Are you doing the work for them? Or are you giving them the tools and leading them to succeed on their own?

One way to increase value is by adding an egg:

When instant cake mixes were introduced in the 1950’s as part of a broader trend to simplify the life of the American housewife by minimizing manual labor, housewives were initially resistant: The mixes made cooking too easy, making their labor and skill seem undervalued. As a result, manufacturers changed the recipe to require adding an egg.

The “IKEA Effect”: When Labor Leads to Love

Finding your “egg” is the hard part. But once you do people will immediately identify value in your product or service. Not only they, they will become intertwined with it and value it as if it were created by an expert.

Some examples

Help & Support

Help & support sections on websites are my favorite example of the IKEA effect at play. A well thought out support section empowers people and connects them to your product. The easier for them it is to learn how to use your product the the greater your retention will be.

Basecamp has a great support section:

Custom meals

Restaurants like Chipotle let you create your own custom meal. When you eat there it’s hard to tell who actually made your meal. They just cooked the components but you assembled them to your desired specification. Without your direction the meal would not be nearly as satisfying.

Captain a boat

Being in charge is fun and empowering. An example of this is The Electric Boat Company in Seattle. For $175/hr. you’re the Captain of an electric boat, navigating you and your friends around Lake Union. Something happens to you when you get behind a ship’s wheel.

Icons made by Iconnice from is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

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