Daily Dose of iQ: Take Surveys with a Grain of Salt

Apr 15, 2011 — Allan Pulga

IKEA: Confusing layout = more impulse buys

Home furnishings giant IKEA was in the news last week, as a University College London professor revealed how the company intentionally arranges its store layout to confuse customers and encourage impulse purchases. The strategy is working: A whopping 60 percent of items purchased were not on customers' shopping lists before entering the store.

"The impluse to buy based on disorientation isn't something IKEA invented," wrote Cord Jefferson of GOOD Design (April 7). "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 enivronment."

Walmart listens to customers, loses over $1B in sales

While IKEA was making efforts to keep aisles cluttered and disorienting, Walmart was trying to tidy up its merchandising layout.

Walmart conducted a survey asking customers if they wanted aisles to be less cluttered, to which they responded with a resounding "Yes!"

Guess what happened? "Sales went down. Way down. I mean waaaaaay down." wrote Mark Hurst of GoodExperience.com (April 13). "I'm talking, from the beginning of that project until today, Walmart has lost over a billion dollars in sales."

Take home message: While you shouldn't create strategy in a vacuum (surveys are important), don't lose sight of how an apparent customer preference (less cluttered aisles) can affect your profit margins. IKEA certainly kept its eye on the profits.

Topics: Mobile Industry, Customer Experience

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