How IKEA Designs Stores to Trick People Into Buying More

The Swedish chain is about salesmanship as much as affordable style, thanks to its confusing, maze-like, consumption-inducing layout

RTXTH67_wide.jpg
While Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel make shopping at IKEA look like bundles of fun, for The Wall Street Journal's Christopher Shae, a trip to the Swedish furniture store is stressful. "I wind up passing the same mock studio apartment half a dozen times, blood pressure rising with each new sighting," he explains. Well, Shae has discovered that IKEA is actually trying to piss him off, designing its stores with confusing layouts so customers get lost and buy more:

This confusion is carefully planned and orchestrated by Ikea, explained Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at University College London, in a recent lecture, in which he makes use of some very cool maps and digitized models of customer flow. One result of Ikea's rat-maze design: 60% of the things people buy there were not on their original shopping list.

The company also pulls off a rather difficult balancing act: "There are a lot of people who go there and don't enjoy it, but still seem to keep going back," Penn says.

Here's the full video of Penn's lecture:



Read the full story at The Wall Street Journal's Ideas Market blog.

Image: Toby Melville/Reuters

Presented by

Rebecca Greenfield is a former staff writer at The Wire.

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. Who cares about youth? James Hamblin turns to his colleague Jeffrey Goldberg for advice.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Never Tell People How Old They Look

Age discrimination affects us all. James Hamblin turns to a colleague for advice.

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

Video

Pittsburgh: 'Better Than You Thought'

How Steel City became a bikeable, walkable paradise

Video

A Four-Dimensional Tour of Boston

In this groundbreaking video, time moves at multiple speeds within a single frame.

Video

Who Made Pop Music So Repetitive? You Did.

If pop music is too homogenous, that's because listeners want it that way.

More in Business

Just In