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The IKEA Effect

What is the IKEA Effect and how does it influence consumer behavior?

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Understanding the IKEA Effect and Its Influence on Consumer Behavior
by: Rebeckah Idella

The IKEA Effect is a fascinating psychological phenomenon where people place a higher value on items they have partially created themselves, compared to items purchased fully assembled. This term was coined by researchers Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon, and Dan Ariely in their 2011 paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. The name is inspired by the Swedish furniture retailer IKEA, known for its self-assembly furniture, which requires customers to put in some effort to build their purchases.

What is the IKEA Effect?

The IKEA Effect refers to the increased value people assign to products they have had a hand in creating, assembling, or customizing. This phenomenon is rooted in the concept of "effort justification," a cognitive dissonance theory that suggests people are likely to attribute greater value to outcomes that require more effort. In the context of the IKEA Effect, the effort expended in assembling a product leads to an enhanced perception of its worth.

Key Studies and Evidence

Norton, Mochon, and Ariely (2011): In their foundational study, the researchers conducted experiments where participants were asked to build simple items like IKEA boxes and origami. The results showed that participants were willing to pay more for their self-assembled creations compared to identical pre-assembled items. This demonstrated that personal effort increased the perceived value of the products.

Franke, Schreier, and Kaiser (2010): This study extended the concept by examining customized products beyond furniture. The researchers found that consumers were willing to pay a premium for customized goods, such as T-shirts and shoes, that they had a role in designing. This further supported the notion that personal investment enhances product value.

Dahl and Moreau (2007): Their research focused on the emotional connection between consumers and self-created products. They found that the act of creation fosters a sense of pride and accomplishment, which in turn strengthens the emotional bond with the product.

These references provide the foundational research behind the IKEA Effect and its implications for consumer behavior.

How the IKEA Effect Influences Consumer Behavior

The IKEA Effect has several implications for consumer behavior:

Increased Willingness to Pay: Consumers are often willing to pay more for products they have assembled themselves. This is because the personal effort involved in the assembly process leads to a greater perceived value of the product.

Enhanced Product Satisfaction: The sense of accomplishment and pride derived from creating or assembling a product can lead to higher overall satisfaction. This emotional attachment makes consumers more likely to appreciate and retain the product.

Customization and Personalization: Companies that offer customization options can tap into the IKEA Effect by allowing consumers to have a hand in designing their products. This not only increases perceived value but also fosters brand loyalty.

Reduced Returns and Exchanges: Because consumers value self-assembled or customized products more highly, they are less likely to return or exchange them. This can be beneficial for retailers in terms of reducing operational costs associated with returns.

Marketing and Branding Strategies: Brands can leverage the IKEA Effect by highlighting the DIY (do-it-yourself) aspects of their products in marketing campaigns. Emphasizing the personal involvement and effort required can attract customers who value the sense of ownership and achievement.

Practical Applications for Businesses

Businesses can strategically use the IKEA Effect to enhance their offerings and engage customers:

DIY Kits: Offering DIY kits or products that require assembly can attract consumers who enjoy hands-on activities and derive satisfaction from creating something themselves.

Customization Platforms: Implementing online customization platforms where customers can personalize their products can capitalize on the IKEA Effect. This approach is particularly effective in industries like fashion, home decor, and electronics.

Workshops and Classes: Hosting workshops or classes that teach customers how to assemble or customize products can create a sense of community and further strengthen the emotional bond with the brand.

Highlighting Effort in Marketing: Marketing campaigns that emphasize the effort and involvement required in using a product can make it more appealing to consumers who value the IKEA Effect.


The IKEA Effect is a powerful psychological phenomenon that influences consumer behavior by increasing the perceived value of self-assembled or customized products. By understanding and leveraging this effect, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction, increase willingness to pay, and foster stronger emotional connections with their products. The IKEA Effect demonstrates the profound impact that personal effort and involvement can have on the way consumers perceive and value the things they buy.

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