Trapped by IKEA: How retail space makes you buy more

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  • Swedish reader Stockholm, Sweden
    Feb. 1, 2012 12:47 a.m.

    My kids and I use IKEA as an outing. We budget about three hours and go through the store test-sitting couches and armchairs, test-lying in beds, having lunch or dinner (depending on the time of day) in the restaurant and picking up things such as batteries and light bulbs. All these little things you need anyway are a lot cheaper at IKEA, so we stock up. Going through the show rooms we let ourselves enjoy the different interior decorating in each living room/bedroom set, and by the time we go home we've enjoyed outselves at least as much as at the movies, if not more. We don't usually buy anything we weren't planning on (or at least remembered we needed). Christmas vacation is not complete without an IKEA outing, and neither is summer vacation. One of my daughters is at BYU, and she and her Swedish friends just go to IKEA for a whiff of home when they gets homesick!

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    Jan. 31, 2012 3:55 p.m.

    I'm with 2Cents. Went there once. Won't be back. Quality of products reminds me of the "As Seen on TV" store... Or the Dollar Store.

  • plyxply SLC, UT
    Jan. 31, 2012 11:46 a.m.

    why anyone would buy furniture at IKEA is beyond me....I made the mistake once of buying furniture there and won't do it again. It took forever to put together and then the first time I had to move it broke and was impossible to fix. From that experience I've learned to buy good quality brand used office furniture for about the same price as I got the cheap stuff at IKEA.

  • Michael De Groote
    Jan. 31, 2012 10:51 a.m.

    I have a whole room (we pretentiously call it the "library") filled with IKEA's Billy bookcases. Great, great product.

    I think whether a person loves or doesn't love IKEA, you can tell something different is going on in the way the store is designed. I hope the story I wrote helps people see why it is they feel different in the store and can then see how other store space might affect their buying habits.

    In China people are coming to IKEA to spend the day in air conditioning -- they take naps in the beds, bring books along to read in chairs and have a holiday.

  • Z South Jordan, UT
    Jan. 31, 2012 9:09 a.m.

    The model only works if you (the consumer) let yourself become the rat. As the Chesire Cat said to Alice, "If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there."

    Or YOU can be in control.

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    Jan. 31, 2012 9:07 a.m.

    Yeah none of this stuff works on me I can see through all of it- I am not a sheep all the other people with weak minds are though but not me- yeah right- cosnumerism owns all of us one way or another whether we like it or not- it either creates our job or dictates how we spend or both- we may rebel in some areas and try and regain control but at the end of the day consumerism is all we really have for an economy so it controls- as for me I like it- nothing like a good therapy session at IKEA

  • 1Infidel APO, AE
    Jan. 31, 2012 9:04 a.m.

    Au contraire on the return shopper. We have hunted down and visited Ikea dozens of times from Woodbridge VA and White Marsh, MD, to Newcastle, UK, and visited stores in Phoenix, Denver and Draper.
    As for quality, we still have bookcases purchased for our children, and a couple utility tables that we have had for over 22 years, some of them now being used in our children's families.
    I searched all over for shelving for food storage in an awkwardly shaped storeroom, and no one in my area was selling modular items that I could use to design the best shelving to maximize use of the space. Everyone else sells the same 3-5 basic shelves, in limited dimensions only.
    Yeah, there are no shortcuts through the showroom, and the lightweight cinnamon rolls are a big draw at the end of running through the store, but wise shopping discipline is wise no matter where one goes. Ikea has a good line of products, though the designs may not fit everyone's style choices. I believe the founder is the richest man in Sweden, hinting that Ikea is not a fad, and that plenty of people have found value in their offerings.

  • EPJ Grantsville, UT
    Jan. 31, 2012 7:36 a.m.

    As soon as I saw that IKEA was attempting to control their customers like rats in a maze, I purposefully subverted their system by breaking out of the prescribed pathway and traversing through the remainder of the space under my choices and interests. It was my one and only visit to IKEA.

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Jan. 31, 2012 6:44 a.m.

    I found the experience at IKEA disconcerting and will never to go there again.

    Their products are far from reliable or cost effective and are very poor quality. It is a store of throw away one time use products. How anyone can like that store is beyond me and it is designed for the shopper who has no self control. Manuvering shopping carts is a task in itself. If ever there was a non consumer friendly store, it is 5 acres of empty black top parking lot. Shoppers don't like to get confused and it will doom their industry and I don't think they will last much longer. No service or help in the store really is a negative and a waste of time. Their plans might work in China or Europe but it won't last here. I doubt they have many return customers.

  • windsor City, Ut
    Jan. 31, 2012 5:56 a.m.

    I'm like Virgil-the model doesn't work on everybody.

    Its like screaming or repetitive "come buy a car from us" commercials don't work on me--don't drop everything and run down and buy a car.

    And how (if I lived in Florida right now) all the screaming political ads wouldn't change my mind of who to vote for.
    I find it silly that many worry and complain about which candidate has the most money to spend on mailings or ads--Like the amount of ads for one candidate are going to be what influences who you want to vote for.

    But I guess maybe they (or IKEA layouts) does work on weaker minds....

  • Ray in St.Petersburg Saint Petersburg, FL
    Jan. 31, 2012 5:45 a.m.

    Ikea ROCKS, and the fact that I am of 100% Swedish extraction has nothing to do with it, ha ha

    Jan. 30, 2012 9:02 p.m.

    I don't know why, but I actually don't find myself making more impulse buys at Ikea, so perhaps the model doesn't work on everybody?

    I really do like how the store is set out, though, and I usually dread shopping. Of course I can see how it can be overwhelming, especially the first time. But I look at the first section of the store as more of a museum than a store, a chance to see how things are set up together which offers a holistic approach to the experience. I feel less pressure to buy and more inspiration for what to look for.