The IKEA effect and the importance of personalisation in online experience

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Person using iPad. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

You probably already know the value of personalisation in customer experience. But do you know about the IKEA effect?

The IKEA effect is a phenomenon in which consumers place a higher value on things they have helped to create. That is, the fact that they’ve partially built the product makes them view it as more valuable.

But if that’s the case with physical products, why not replicate the IKEA effect for the online customer experience?

The IKEA effect and personalisation


The IKEA effect earned its name from the popular furniture chain. It’s based on the revelation that consumers place a higher value on IKEA products over pre-built products of the same design.
For ecommerce businesses, the IKEA effect demonstrates two key things:

1. Personalisation is an important and powerful component to great customer experience.



2. Customers value the things they feel responsible for — things they’ve put effort into, helped to build, and so on.

So, leveraging the IKEA effect in your online offering means incorporating personalisation options. In other words, allowing customers to personalise how their online experience is personalised.

Building the experience


By combining customer choice with data-led personalisation, then, you could replicate the IKEA effect. Simply put, allow online customers to toggle which data-led personalisation they receive.

You could also give the choice to provide extra data to personalise the customer’s experience. For example, you could ask them for their location. Then, any results you show can incorporate local weather or nearby deals. Or, you could give your online customers the option to choose the style, colour, and size of the product they’re looking for. Then, show them those (now personalised) results.

If your online customers make their own accounts, consider letting them personalise their profile. For instance, you could offer them a choice of site colour scheme. (Just make sure it doesn’t impact your branding.)

The point is, the IKEA effect means that not all personalisation needs to be automatic and behind the scenes. Customers like to feel involved in their shopping experience.

Automatic personalisation


The IKEA effect in online experience doesn’t mean that every ounce of personalisation should come from asking the customer. Automatic, data-led personalisation should still have a seat at the table. After all, you don’t want to create hurdles to your products and services.

Take your online customer service, for instance. Personalisation here should be automatic — use their name, know their purchase history. It’s an opportunity to show the customer you know who they are and care about their business.

Personalisation needs balance. Too many options for customers creates hurdles. Too much automatic personalisation becomes creepy. A balanced approach, meanwhile, creates a seamless, personalised experience with a hint of the IKEA effect on your side.

The impact of the IKEA effect


By leveraging the IKEA effect, you add to the perceived value of your products and services. In other words, there’s power in letting online customers choose how their experience is personalised to them.

Customers see more value in an experience that they feel a part of. When your customers have influenced their experience, they’ll feel more engaged and involved in their online journey.



So, leveraging the IKEA effect in this way drives customer engagement and loyalty. In fact, 44% of consumers say they’re likely to make repeat purchases after a personalised experience. You also stand to increase conversions by adding perceived value to your offering.

Plus, it gives you a way to increase your online accessibility. For instance, a choice of colour schemes means you can give high contrast options for people with eyesight issues.

Find a balance


Much emphasis has, as of late, been placed on data-driven, automatic personalisation. And there’s still a place for that. However, the IKEA effect shows that we needn’t be afraid of letting customers actively contribute to their personalised experience, too.

So, could you make use of the IKEA effect in your online experience?

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