As marketers, we think that customers will always prefer a more convenient product.

Therefore “done-for-you” is always more desirable.

Well, the IKEA effect completely contradicts this belief…

The IKEA Effect explained

The IKEA effect is a “cognitive bias in which consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created”. (wiki)

In other words, people care more about the products for which they had to invest a little bit of effort.

This is especially true if they feel like, by doing so, they got better value for money.

Here is how to leverage the IKEA effect to create a better customer experience:

1/ Feeling more competent

By giving the opportunity to co-create the product, you can give the customer an opportunity to feel more competent.

One of the best examples of this is a service like Blue Apron.

They deliver meal kits (detailed recipe + ingredients) and enable customers to feel positive about their cooking skills.

2/ Better product quality

By making the product less “complete”, you can also increase its quality.

The best example of this is the cake mix.

Before the 50s, most cake mixes were sold with powdered eggs already incorporated in the mix.

It took the industry a while to understand they should remove the powdered eggs and ask the customers to add fresh eggs instead.

The taste was better and it reinforced that sense of competency for the customer.

3/ Higher level of customization

By making the customer work on the product, you can reach a level of customization impossible with a massively produced “done-for-you” product.

A great example of this is La Manufacture.

They offer a kit to make your own foundation with the exact shade of your skin.

4/ Lower customer churn

The IKEA effect made its way to software as well.

If you want your SaaS to be more sticky, you need customers to invest time early on configuring your product.

The more time they spend configuring the tool to their needs, inputting their own data, and building a system around it; the less likely they’ll be to move.

This is why the onboarding phase is so important.

5/ Create a unique experience

By understanding that customers are okay working for the product instead of just consuming a final product, you can create a whole category of products that offer a quite unique experience.

A good example of this is haycations. Staying at a farm for cheaper in exchange for helping out with a few chores is a great example of the IKEA effect.

Limitations

Further research shows you should however limit the amount of creativity the customer can express assembling the product. (Dahl and Moreau, 2007).

Therefore offering a path that is easy to follow for the customer to lead that “extra” effort is preferable.

Thanks for reading!

Badis

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