We all know how the human mind functions, and having a grocery list increases the chance of sticking with what we really need to buys. Separating our wants from our true needs.
In the retail industry, brand builders have pried on shoppers weakness forever; and it’s the little items that are strategically placed in corners and ends of aisles that get noticed. A great example is the supermarket checkout counter: this is when shoppers are at ease, the heart rate the slowest, as you wait in line to pay for your groceries. And this is where a treasure trove of impulse items are placed. From candy to gossip tabloids, and batteries. Little inexpensive items that seem harmless to our wallets. But oh boy, do the retailers know how to separate us with our money!
Well it turns out there’s a theory behind this, and it combines human psychology and architecture. Retail places that are deliberately designed to induce shoppers impulse buying habits.
At IKEA, the planet’s biggest furniture store, this approach is their secret sauce, and they’ve become pros at this science. IKEA’s store design are deliberately made to confuse customers and make them reach deeper into their pockets, buying impulse items they didn’t intend to buy in the first place.
Alan Penn, professor of architectural computing from London’s University College, alleges that IKEA stores are laid out in a deliberately confusing manner in order to nudge customers into zigzagging confusedly through the store, upping their chances of encountering things that weren’t on their shopping lists and impulsively buying them.
In IKEA’s case, you have to follow a set path past what is effectively their catalogue in physical form, with furniture placed in different settings which is meant to show you how adaptable it is…
By the time you get to the warehouse where you can actually buy the stool or whatever’s caught your eye, you’re so impressed by how cheap it is that you end up getting it.
Also you’re directed through their marketplace area where a staggering amount of purchases are impulse buys, things like lightbulbs or a cheap casserole that you weren’t planning on getting.
Here the trick is that because the lay-out is so confusing you know you won’t be able to go back and get it later, so you pop it in your trolley as you go past.
… an article on PSFK today told us that60% of purchases from the Swedish design giant are impulse buys.
This impulse to buy based on disorientation isn’t something IKEA invented. It’s actually something called “the Gruen Transfer.” Named after Austrian architect Victor Gruen, the Gruen Transfer “is the moment when consumers respond to ‘scripted disorientation’ cues in the environment.”
… skip ahead to the 25-minute mark in this video for a fascinating explanation of how IKEA builds its stores in such a way that 60 percent of its customers’ purchases weren’t on their shopping list to begin with. In essence, the discombobulation may frustrate you, but it also loosens up your purse strings.