I want to study is Ikea. This is obviously because I was there just there this past week and I want to understand how they separate me from my money! I take an annual trip there with my friend (and downstairs neighbour) Cecilia. Despite my assertion that you should only buy the *really* cheap things at Ikea (because if you were planning on actually buying something good quality someplace better deserves your money) I still ended up spending $100.
Okay, so there are many artifacts in an Ikea. What I really want to look at though is the way that the store is laid out, and what assumptions are implicit in this form of organization. In case you haven’t been to an Ikea, it pretty much goes like this: first, you’re led through a number of showrooms, with arrows showing you which way to walk. After the showroom comes the restaurant and then the retail area where you can buys smaller items that you saw in the showroom, like kitchenwares and bedsheets. After the smaller retail items, you are funnelled into the “self serve” furniture warehouse where you can pick up all of the larger items that you want to buy (larger chairs, beds, entire kitchens, etc). Having been to Ikea in three different countries (Canada, Switzerland, Hungary) I can tell you that it works pretty much the same no matter where you are in the world.
Ikea is hugely successful in the developed world. What I think is interesting about this is that the layout is the same everywhere: a quick look at Wikipedia revealed that my observations concerning it’s layout extend beyond the three countries I have direct experience with. It seems to me then that the folks over at Ikea have discovered some sort of universal human truth, because Ikea is successful no matter which cultural context it exists in (assuming the local population is able to afford it’s products). Ikea has found a successful way to disseminate the information concerning it’s products in a manner that is pleasing to it’s audience. I don’t want to burden Ikea with the future of the human race, but I think that a lot about human nature can be uncovered in an Ikea showroom!
Image courtesy of http://avoidingatrophy.blogspot.ca/2012/08/ikea-and-other-letdowns.html