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Ikea designed to make clients buy more: study

TT/The Local/vt · 23 Jan 2011, 17:45

Published: 23 Jan 2011 17:45 GMT+01:00

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"It is so well done and so cunningly done that I have little doubt that it is intentional," Professor Alan Penn of University College London told the UK's The Times on Saturday.

Ikea has denied the findings. Wandering through the store provides inspiration and there are shortcuts to all departments, Ikea Sweden's head of communications Ivana Flygare told Aftonbladet on Sunday.

Penn presented his findings at a lunch hour lecture on Tuesday after investigating an Ikea store in London, newspaper The Scotsman reported on Sunday.

He concluded that Ikea's success is due in part to the confusion customers experience in their stores, which are designed like mazes. According to the report, customers are forced to walk through the entire store before they can leave.

Penn noted that customers who followed the path guided by arrows on the ground quickly became disoriented and lost track of the direction of the exit, the report said.

"It's more S&M than M&S," he said during the lecture, which was posted on YouTube on Wednesday, referring to UK department store chain Marks & Spencer.

Story continues below…

He acknowledged that all stores have shortcuts due to fire regulations, but they are never in the customer's field of view, he said.

"The way to the exit is always behind you," he said.

TT/The Local/vt (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:27 January 23, 2011 by Bones
ehh.... no shite, Sherlock! Isn't it obvious the moment you walk into the store??! I've been saying that for years...
18:28 January 23, 2011 by BobWas
Well, "duh!"

Here's another newsflash: Supermarkets are designed to make us buy junk food.

Next, the boffins will be telling us that IKEA pipes the aroma of cinnamon buns into the store to make us stop at the caff!
18:30 January 23, 2011 by Puge Henis
A store tries to get you to buy more...


In other news candy tastes sweet to satisfy your sweet tooth!

(Shocking as well!)
18:44 January 23, 2011 by renjithr
who ever is this UK junk....needs to understand that...ALL SUPER MARKETS intention is the same...so as IKEA.But if you are really focused on what you need and not ..its simple..

I have walked out of IKEA's biggest store in the world , Kunges Kurva , Stockholm in 15mnts after buyng 2 stuff.

Seems UK is jealous of IKEA sucess....

UK Whites....work...for some time...
18:57 January 23, 2011 by Authentica
"Penn presented his findings at a lunch hour lecture.."

Some findings you got there, professor! Waste of time, I'd say..
19:39 January 23, 2011 by Puffin
Gosh did the UK really a professor to do a study to tell them this

I had a person from Marks & Spencer tell by business studies group this over 20 years ago - M&S move their stock around regularly to prevent you going directly tp what you want - so you have to walk past other merchandise and perhaps make impulse purchases -same reason the food is at the back
20:02 January 23, 2011 by Zala Russe
:D :D

"It is so well done and so cunningly done ..."

Hey, Proseffor! It's called 'Marketing for Dummies'

'According to the report, customers are forced to walk through the entire store before they can leave.'

Not before being force-fed meatballs in the cafeteria!

He acknowledged that all stores have shortcuts due to fire regulations, but they are never in the customer's field of view, he said.

Guess his head was so far up his a**crack he didn't see what everyone else can find. Sheeesh!
20:32 January 23, 2011 by Strongbow
I guess professors are too busy to look at all the maps in every section of the store, with clearly marked shortcuts? After two or more visits to the same Ikea store you know these shortcuts, and they never move.
20:46 January 23, 2011 by mikewhite
Firstly I presume that this article is referring to Alan Penn of UCL rather than "Alan Alan".

Secondly to the "no s*** Sherlock" brigade can I just point out that this was a Lunchtime lecture, not a presentation of a 5 year research project to the Advanced Buildings Institute. Such lectures are usually posed at an elementary level in an accessible format

OK so how are the shoppers manipulated ? Are they aware that it's happening to them ? How do you find out ? How did Ikea do its research ?

Ask the Prof and then tell me it's all obvious.

But low marks to TheLocal for such pedestrian reporting of this presentation.

(And lower marks to thelocal.se site for making me type all this in again !! Ctrl-A Ctrl-C !)
20:51 January 23, 2011 by Swedesmith
Newsflash: tomorrow the sun will rise in the east and set in the west.
21:01 January 23, 2011 by Zala Russe
I preferred the monacre Professor Alan Alan. His parents had a sense of humour even if he didn't. A bit like Major Major in 'Catch-22'. A liquid lunchtime lecture by the sound of things.

BTW you can't fault IKEA on their returns policy and practice. I am a frequent visitor :)
21:45 January 23, 2011 by mikewhite
"Newsflash: tomorrow the sun will rise in the east and set in the west." - so now you're saying Copernicus' "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" was all obvious as well !!
22:47 January 23, 2011 by samwise
Now I know what keeps the professors busy.
23:21 January 23, 2011 by GLO
Only one of the best in the WORLD Why! Dummy's go figure...
23:22 January 23, 2011 by jack sprat
Bloody hilarious.

Well nice to know all those years of study haven't been wasted. lol.

As regards being trapped in Ikea, I would much prefer doing time in San Quentin, than ever going back there again.
01:12 January 24, 2011 by patbreslin
Many once sane men and happy marriages could still be were it not for this abominable retail outlet.

No wonder VIZ depicted a northern Swedish man throw himself off the roof of IKEA. The journey back down through the shop would have done for the same. He obviouslty wanted it over with quickly.
01:42 January 24, 2011 by pacodelucia
what you can buy from IKEA are pieces of wooden planks,

table without legs

bed without curtain

door without knobs

desk without drawers

so the concept is you have a mind that only check the price of the basic element of a furniture when you purchasing.

it's called innovation, it looks everything is cheap in order, but all about the business and logistics

very cunning, but well done.
01:48 January 24, 2011 by kenny8076
lol so because the store is confusing or you get lost you just start buying stuff?!?! pahaha thats their findings? i get lost at almost every auto show ive gone to, sadly never came out buying a car though.
06:31 January 24, 2011 by Puge Henis

You're not a woman.
07:36 January 24, 2011 by RitaPita
I think a lot of people are having trouble reading.

It's the UK paper that wrote the story, but this "incredible revelation" was from a U Penn teacher (USA).

Thank you, Professor Obvious.
08:17 January 24, 2011 by Keith #5083
I TOTALLY AGREE with the Professor when it comes to confusion and disorientation..But, I am really puzzled to know when he went shopping in IKEA with my wife!

Where it is especially difficult is to re-trace one's steps to an earlier area of the maze - this is what really gets my wife disorientated who when in a supermarket tends to treat the experience as an experiment in 'random access behaviour' oscillating between purchasing impulses in geographically random locations.
08:27 January 24, 2011 by Already in use
No, really? I thought they want us to buy less.

The more interesting question is whether it works. Because for what I am concerned, I find this 'maze' extremely annoying. Yes, there's some shortcuts to get you just where you want, but I never seem to find them.
09:03 January 24, 2011 by SweetBlue

It is Professor Alan Penn of University College London
10:13 January 24, 2011 by JulieLou40
I've always hated Ikea for this reason. Whether I've been to Gateshead, Edinburgh, or Haparanda stores, every time I've left wanting to shoot myself.
10:14 January 24, 2011 by koshka
For the real experience look on YouTube for the Njarnia sketch (BBC3 The Wrong Door).
10:59 January 24, 2011 by procrustes
Talk about an amazing grasp of the obvious! Geez, Louse...and think about the absurdity that someone paid for this study.
12:11 January 24, 2011 by ngecenk
what does snm than mns means? i cant google anything snm beside sodomasochism!
12:31 January 24, 2011 by summo
IKEA is the classic example of everything you should do sell. You certainly don't even need to be a bachelor, doctorate or professor to work this out. Complex layout, cafe in middle, kids creche, cheap looking goods at every corner, more bag in case you forgot yours... but surely that's business. What people should be looking for is the clever ones that do it more cleverly and cunning than IKEA where you don't notice and do get drawn in. Now that would have been a study worth funding.
13:25 January 24, 2011 by soultraveler3
It's funny and a bit sad, that so many researchers get paid to study stuff like this. It's years (sometimes) and tons of money wasted to tell you what should be common sense or in this case, the same thing that researchers came out with years ago.

Everyone knows that most stores are built to keep customers in there as long as possible. The music that is played, the colors that are displayed, the lack of clocks, the flow of the store, the placement of merchandise etc. all contribute to the goal of earning more profit.
13:27 January 24, 2011 by Uncle
In the latest research of professors from the university of Kongo Kinshasa, it was determined that forests and deserts are designed for the sole purpose of people to get lost in them, confused and disoriented. "Cunning design" they called it. Apparently, in any forest or desert the exit is always behind you.

Although the scientists admitted that the exits exist in front of you and to your sides also, they are not within your sight or knowledge.

Next project on the professor's schedule is whether the buttons on the phone are placed with certain intention, or whether it is a random placement and of course the long anticipated research on whether there is a certain goal behind commercial billboards or is it just nice shiny pictures of random items.
13:51 January 24, 2011 by Åskar
@soultraveler3: "... to keep customers in there as long as possible. The music that is played ..."

Sorry, but that will get me, at least, out of the place as quickly as possible.
13:56 January 24, 2011 by Syftfel
Since this story is written as though it were a negative, the story must have been crafted by a social democrat. Exactly why is this bad? After all, in the capitalist system under which which we thankfully live, "buy more" is the mantra which moves moves society forward, towards progress. Every business of every kind is designed so as to encourage us to buy more. Or is the author perhaps angling for the good old days of orthodox East German style communism?
15:02 January 24, 2011 by JiDa
LOL seriously? Is this 'research' something the professor gets paid to do...?
23:26 January 24, 2011 by mikewhite
... and yet no-one seems to complain that TV football commentators are just telling you what's happening on the screen - and getting paid for it !
23:45 January 24, 2011 by Maler1971
and let me guess, it's cheaply made and falls apart on purpose so you have to buy more in a year?? NO!!!
00:01 January 25, 2011 by Acroyear
IKEA is a great way of "stress-testing" a relationship.

5 visits should be compulsory before couples are allowed to tie the knot. That would seriously lower Swedish divorce rates.
10:09 January 25, 2011 by BrittInSweden
@ngecenk Thats exactly what he is getting at. M&S is a UK store. S&M is exactly what you think.

@renjithr So because they looked into the IKEA store layout makes the UK jealous of IKEA success? Not sure your theory has foundation there.

Also this article does tell us what we knew all along but it is interesting to see IKEA deny it.
16:44 January 25, 2011 by Zevdokat
Why is this news? Every big supermarket on the planet is designed to achieve the same results - the 2 most basic short-life items are always at the back of the shop - milk and bread. Think about it.
12:32 January 26, 2011 by lili2010
After reading all the comments above, I wonder if any one of you have considered that IKEA has every single stuff 's price and pictures on its webpage? This means you are free to buy or not to buy and you can also buy on the internet. Why would IKEA want to get people confused?Don't you know that if people hate that area then IKEA will loose custormers. Afterall a big shopping mall is supposed to be like that. It is not confusing at all if you are focused and follow the signs they put to make life easier.
23:42 February 3, 2011 by alecLoTh
Would he rather you just walked in a straight line from beginning to end? Of course it will be maze-like...it's the only way to utilize the entire floor space.....it's also feng shui
11:39 January 4, 2012 by mikewhite
And a year later, here's a link to an interesting article (with pictures!) on the subject (especially for the "no sh** Sherlock" fans) referencing Prof Alan Penn's talk.

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