How IKEA Designs Stores to Trick People Into Buying More

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

Jump to comments
Presented by

Rebecca Greenfield is a writer based in Brooklyn. She was formerly on staff at The Atlantic Wire.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

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

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

What makes a story great? The storytellers behind House of CardsThis American LifeThe Moth, and more reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Business

Just In