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To study the social influence and cognition and analyse it through user’s perception and suggesting design recommendations for same.

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Ikea’s motto of creating a ‘better everyday life for the many people’ focuses highly on making it affordable as well as good quality, making it a point that every customer gets benefits as well as themselves. IKEA believes in working hard to achieve quality through optimizing their entire value chain, by building long-term supplier relationships, investing in highly automated production and producing large volumes.

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Schemas are mental frameworks. In the context of Ikea we can see Object, Self and Event Schema which plays a roles.


For example when you build a bookcase on your own without reading a manual it would be considered as object schema or when you evaluate if you can or cannot build the furniture based on your self experiences it could be called as self schema. Lastly when you’re visiting the store there is a schema which is prepared like what you want to buy, what you want to ask, amount you’d be paying, cost structure of product, all of this comes under Event schema as you’re anticipating actions for that particular event.

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Mental Errors

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Heuristics refer to mental shortcuts that allow users to make judgments quickly and efficiently. Within IKEA, we identify Representative, Affect and Peak-End Heuristics.

For example, IKEA setting up room displays aids the user’s imagination by showing how the furniture might look at their house would be considered as Affect Heuristic. Furthermore, by comparing the information of the furniture in front of us with what we have previously known or heard would be Representative Heuristic. And by setting up a food counter which provides cheap grab-and-go items like hot dogs or ice cream during the check-out helps alleviate any negative experiences users had during their visit is an example of Peak-End Heuristic.

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A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that occurs when people are processing and interpreting information in the world around them and affects the decisions and judgments that they make.

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People tend to value an object more if they make (or assemble) it themselves. This happens because of the psychological idea of effort justification. We tend to place more value on the goal we were working towards and that we did it for a good reason.

Ikea Effect
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When we’ve put our blood, sweat, and tears into a project, factors like effort justification, the fear of feeling inept, and our rosy self-concepts can all blind us to issues or places where there’s room for improvement leading to optimistic bias.

Optimistic Bias
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Halo Effect

IKEA’s products are simple, minimal yet aesthetic. They look good, they feel good, and eventually we think that they are good in quality as well.

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Customers of IKEA are the working class people who are looking for value for money home furnishing solutions. These are majorly in the age group of 20-50 years. These are the consumers who have an inclination towards the stylish & modern home furnishing solutions.

Through our Social Media Accounts we asked users what comes to their mind when they hear / see IKEA . We further conducted interviews with almost 18 to 20 people of various demographic to understand their experience.

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Dipstick survey of about 50 participants.


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- Cannot find help
- Queue is too long. Too much crowd
- Website is not that efficient

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- See the furniture and get to decide to see how it looks
- Understand the material
- Can buy in bulk
- Cafeteria

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We identified issues surrounding crowd management, navigation and poor web user experience for IKEA India’s users. To combat and improve the identified flaws, we recommended design interventions for the same. We also recommend marketing strategies to help IKEA India further engage Indian users.



Way-finding Maps

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Improving tangible wayfinding in store along with having an in-app navigational system that can help users move around confidently the store. This would also be beneficial in locating store personnel. Something users found difficult to find. Furthermore to better manage crowds and avoid crowding in certain areas, a management system was designed as well.

Crowds can be traced and managed using an RFID management system with RFID tags attached on the shopping trolleys. During the initial entry point at the main entrance of the store where the customer’s temperature is checked, this RFID card will be swiped to activate it and the number of members of that group will be updated. This number will be calculated as the number of people in that area. Time slots could also be increased from 30 mins to 45 mins.

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IKEA Kiosk Pit-Stop

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To better market IKEA to the general Indian population, having a VR experience kiosk wherein users could actually experience IKEA’s store and have an immersive journey would go a long way in marketing a new brand in the customer’s mind. Customers will be able to explore various offerings of IKEA’s stores including aspirational display rooms, products in different colours, etc. Customers will also be able to open cupboards, and virtually use various products to get a better understanding.

These kiosks would also host IKEA furniture that tired passersby can sit on and relax. Providing an opportunity for new customers to try out IKEA’s furniture.

Customers will also be able to look at the various statistics and reviews of the furniture to get a broader understanding of the brand. This plays into the wisdom of the crowd and the numbers effect.

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Website UI & Flow Changes

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Customers can now enjoy the IKEA experience sitting at their home. The 360 feature would allow users to virtually walk through an IKEA room setting and explore the products. Inspired from the Google Street View concept, this feature will enable users to see various furniture settings in their natural environment. This would also be beneficial and interesting for the users who don’t have an IKEA store in their city while enhancing the overall online furniture buying experience.

IKEA’s current website home page has extensive scrolling and some unnecessary sections. After adding and subtracting a few sections, the home page would show important sections while reducing the scroll time. The IKEA website also has a long user flow and involves too many clicks to reach a product page. This might frustrate some users since they are just here to shop for furniture but need to go through so many steps first instead.

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Psychology in
IKEA's Success

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Ever since its inception, IKEA has become a favored global furniture brand for an impressively wide customer base, from college students running off to grab some meatballs, families travelling far and wide for a day trip to long-time homeowners who need a new bookcase or a crib. Quality products, addictive experiences, affordable prices and a DIY assembly attitude are big reasons for IKEA’s success.

Intuitively IKEA makes decisions for the customer using cognitive shortcuts. In addition to the smart cognitive design, IKEA’s layout nudges customers to spend more money. The guided pathway gets customers into a passive mentality in which they hand over control of where they are and where they go next. Even during the checkout, a quite stressful process is eliminated by having the scent of baking, of warmth, of sugar — in particular something that takes the stress out — available for further purchase at a cheap cost. So when the customer finally leaves they still associate the time and money spent at IKEA as a day well spent.

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Their entry into India was no different. IKEA focused on giving the customer a sense of comfort and familiarity and while still maintaining the pleasure of discovery. By further extensively researching the Indian home structures, IKEA will no doubt be able to be an industry leader with a pan India presence.

KEA’s launch into the Indian market, which is largely dominated by the unorganized sector, and major organized sector players, mainly Pepperfry and UrbanLadder, has posed a challenge to IKEA’s perceived brand image. By understanding the current customer behavior landscape, we were able to highlight the main challenges faced by IKEA, in India specifically. All together we came up with several recommendations aimed at improving their online presence and advertising for expansion into the hinterlands. All recommendations in the end focused on one goal - shortening the distance between IKEA and their customer.

IKEA in India

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This project was a classroom project in which we had to combine social psychology with our knowledge of user experience design in order to engage users and craft better experiences for them. IKEA has been recently launched in India having both an online and offline presence. Ikea has built their experience center with a lot of thought so the user never leaves the store empty handed. This course has helped us explore the various schemas, heuristics, cognitive biases involved in designing and marketing IKEA.

This course opened doors in understanding the psychology of IKEA and how they play with the psychology of users and gain benefit from it. Since IKEA is still building in India, based on our interactions with IKEA users we are proposing some recommendations which would help IKEA communicate and engage users with the brand and also decrease the load in terms of navigation.


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#Vedika Awad 
# Isha Deosthali 

# Isha Kulkarni

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