IKEA effect – Why do consumers appreciate handmade products?

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Tomorrow Marketers – Today, convenience is valued more than ever. We live in a busy world where everything is available, finished, and just pay to get the product back.

However, why is IKEA’s DIY furniture products (Do-It-Yourself) still popular, even if consumers will only receive kits that include components and have to assemble them themselves to Complete product? In fact, IKEA customers not only continue to buy, but they also give very positive feedback about it. This phenomenon has been studied and named the “Ikea effect”. Join TM to learn more about this psychological effect in the following article.

1. What is the IKEA Effect?

The “Ikea effect” is a cognitive bias that describes how consumers value and value an item more than if they made (or assembled) it themselves. More broadly, the IKEA effect speaks to how we tend to like things more if we’ve put in the effort to create them.

The term was coined by US researchers Michael I. Norton, Daniel Mochon and Dan Ariely. In 2011, they conducted an experiment in which participants were divided into two groups: group 1 would assemble IKEA items on their own, and group 2 had no specific tasks. Then, the two groups were asked to compare the value of the homemade boxes with the finished products. The test results showed that group 1 felt the homemade boxes were more valuable than the finished products, and at the same time, they also valued the homemade boxes more than group 2 – those who did not. Make the box yourself.

The conclusion from the experiment showed that, Consumers tend to appreciate and appreciate a product more when they complete it with their own hands. However, in cases where they put in too little effort or are unable to complete the task, the IKEA effect will not appear.

Read more: Psychological effects in Marketing

Illustrate the concept of “Ikea effect” | Image source: Mile Zero

2. Why does this effect happen? The answer from a psychological point of view

The need for self-affirmation

“Excellent completion of the task” is a way for people to self-realize their self-worth, affirm their competence, and demonstrate their ability to control their work. No one likes to feel like they’re stupid or incompetent.

Desire to prove ability makes people want to have a task to challenge themselves. Completing tasks and overcoming those difficulties (in this case, assembling and completing DIY objects) can make them feel fulfilled and ego-satisfied, they realize that “I am asserting myself.” self-worth”.

In a proven experiment, researchers gave participants four math problems to solve. One group had very easy problems, the other group had very difficult problems. The goal of this is to create the illusion of perception and manipulate feelings of competence: the group with difficult problems develops feelings of stress and self-doubt, while the group that is assigned easy problems is very difficult. confident in their abilities.

After solving the math problems, the participants were shown an image of an IKEA bookcase and asked if they wanted to buy pre-assembled products or build their own. The results showed that those who had been previously challenged were more likely to prefer to assemble the bookcase themselves.

Possession Effect

When owning an item, the owner and others tend to see and evaluate that item from two different perspectives: if the owner already has certain knowledge about the product, then other than not feeling any emotional connection with the item. Therefore, Owners often focus on positive traits to highlight their connection with the item. This leads to a gap between the perceived value of owners and outsiders.

Consumption awareness

When receiving a kit and having to manually complete the product, consumers will have the feeling that they are “saving money” and tBecome a “smart shopper”, reduce installation service fees.

Read more: How does Halo Effect impact your business?

3. Apply the IKEA effect to Marketing

In fact, we can see this effect in our lives more than we think, from the fact that farm stalls are often open to everyone to freely experience planting and enjoy the fruits of their labor, to coffee shops that allow you to experience the Drip Coffee method yourself, etc. The IKEA effect is also a theoretical foundation for businesses to innovate in product development and towards co-creation with consumers ( Co-Creation), to deliver more personalized experiences and values. Since then, the relationship between the company and the customer has changed. Instead of being passive consumers, customers are increasingly seen as product co-developers.

A creative use advertisement for IKEA users | Image source: TheDrum

Therefore, companies must actively seek close, mutually beneficial relationships by empowering and creating opportunities for customers to personalize products and become creative collaborators in the production process.

Besides, to take advantage of the IKEA effect with high efficiency, marketers need to Add a little challenging spice to the product. Because when a task is too easy or there are detailed instructions available, consumers often do not need too much effort to complete and do not overestimate the results. At the same time, the challenge should not require too much effort from the consumer, because the IKEA effect only occurs if the consumer successfully completes the product. Therefore, the user experience designer. Anton Nikolov has suggested incorporating the IKEA effect into product design strategies – the ideal is when users can contribute unchallenging efforts to perfect the product, and this provides “value for money”. high feeling” about the product. This can make them feel in control of the product and reduce fear in the face of a new product.

4. Case study using IKEA effect in product development


The ‘Nike By You’ feature in the Nike online store allows users to co-create personalized shoes. This feature helps users become part of the creative process, right from choosing shoe models, colors and design elements through to 3D interaction. Converse, a Nike company, offers a similar service to its customers.


LEGO is a toy brand with the main products being colorful plastic blocks that can be linked together, along with other pieces (minifigures) such as character blocks, gears, figurines, … To this day, LEGO is still the leading brand value in the toy market and has been loved for generations. Have you ever wondered what makes consumers willing to pay 7-10 times the cost of production just to buy LEGO blocks and an instruction manual that is simple enough for children to understand too?

What makes this brand stand out is not the finished LEGO blocks, but the experiences consumers have as they assemble these blocks.

Regardless of age or ability, anyone can assemble LEGO pieces into a model. There are more than 900 million toy styles that consumers can create with just 6 LEGO blocks of the same color. Thanks to that, everyone can create their own models and let their imagination run wild.


The IKEA effect will become increasingly popular, especially as Marketing is moving to a stage where the focus is on the consumer experience. To apply this effect successfully in product development, marketers need to follow a customer-centric strategy.

However, understanding consumers is never easy, especially as consumer psychology and behavioral economics still need more in-depth research to bring about a positive experience on the internet. every touchpoint with the consumer. If you want to learn more about insights and research methods to “read” consumers, join now. Marketing Foundation course at Tomorrow Marketers!

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The article is compiled by Tomorrow Marketers, please do not copy in any form.

By Nguyen Manh Cuong

Nguyen Manh Cuong is the author and founder of the nguyendiep blog. With over 14 years of experience in Online Marketing, he now runs a number of successful websites, and occasionally shares his experience & knowledge on this blog.

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