The IKEA effect

January 28th, 2016 by Sarah Bartlett

the IKEA effect

I recently upped sticks from rural North Lincolnshire to the big-city-buzz of Leeds and, with a house move/new job combo within 24 hours of each other, I found myself in a *slight* panic about not just a complete lifestyle overhaul but actually finding space in my apartment for all of my worldly possessions.

Cue a trip to IKEA…

As we walked around the megastore I tried to avoid the irrational thoughts of needing 5 styles of clothes hangers and one of every candle scent. I reminded myself that all I needed was a clothes rail and once back at the flat, we got the toolkit out and assembled said clothes rail in what felt like no time at all (and it looks fabulous, by the way). Amongst the twisting of Allen keys and feelings of joy I felt once we’d assembled it, I couldn’t help but think back to my Psychology degree.

In the industry we’re in, a lack of understanding of people is an absolute crime and so it’s important to apply a little outside thinking as to how and why people make the decisions they do, however irrational they may be.

Dan Ariely, leading professor of Psychology and Behavioural Economics at Duke University, co-published a study in 2012 quite satisfyingly titled “The IKEA effect: When labour leads to love”. The premise of the study was to investigate consumers’ valuations of self-made products – i.e. why we love our hand-assembled furniture more than fully-assembled counterparts.

Across four studies, participants had to build IKEA boxes, fold origami and construct Lego sets, and they were then asked what they’d be willing to pay for their self-made masterpiece. What was most compelling was that participants believed their self-made products were worth top dollar, with results revealing those participants would pay more for their creations than outsiders would pay for the same creations. So what is it about our self-made products that makes us love them more than the expertly manufactured alternatives?

Labour is love… And science suggests it’s the time, effort and skill involved in the creation that make us love our self-made products a heck of a lot more than those of experts.

The positive side of this bias means we can save ourselves money and still remain happy if we opt for self-assemble furniture and cook-at-home recipes as opposed to buying more expensive, ready-made alternatives (ever wondered why the famous Betty Crocker cake mix recipe changed from ‘just add water’ to add ‘egg and oil’?).

However the negative side of this means we may disproportionately apply a cognitive bias towards our own creations, which could negatively affect us in everyday life.

Take our industry, for example; if one individual ran with every idea or decision that popped into their head, the company would probably fall flat on its arse. It’s the time taken to discuss with multiple minds and get an alternative perspective that allows us to come up with award-winning, unique and awesome ideas, taking ourselves out of our own bubble and away from cognitive bias.

It’s worth noting that only successful completion of a task warrants this psychological effect. I.e. if you built, then unbuilt, your Lego set, or don’t get chance to finish it, you won’t show a willingness to pay more for it!


Things in everyday life that can be explained by the IKEA effect:

  • Why your grandma LOVES the jumper they knitted for you, but the thought of it makes you nauseous.
  • Why you are SO proud of your upcycled car boot sale chair, and your partner wasn’t impressed.
  • Why entrepreneurs on Dragon’s Den think their invention is the next big thing, when in fact it has no legs whatsoever.
  • Why everyone thinks THEIR baby is the cutest in the world – the most literal form of ‘labour of love’?
  • Why children love their Build-A-Bear SO much more than their regular shop-bought teddy bear, and you walk away wondering why you just took out a loan to buy it.
  • Why people put their house on the market at an asking price way above what nearby homes have sold for.

So what can we take from this? In business, getting your customers or clients to, in part, ‘do it themselves’ (provided it’s not rocket science!) will make them love your product that little bit more, and have them coming back for it time and time again.

You can read the published study here.


The Consumer Journey

January 15th, 2016 by Ryan Roodt


The consumer journey online can be described as a road trip with the family, picture if you will… climbing into the car with the wife and kids and heading down from Edinburgh to London.

With the road trip music blaring, the search journey has now begun and you’re making good grounds down the A1!  It’s at this point you start being bombarded with road signs and billboards… ask yourself the following questions “how many of them would you actually remember?” or “how many of them would generate enough interest for you to pull over?”.

Now skip ahead several hours later, music is still blaring and you’re making great headway down towards the capital… however, your kids are complaining about being hungry and needing the toilet!  The relentless onslaught of signs and billboards now enter a whole new category of desire… because they now serve a purpose!  As the driver your sole job now is to watch every sign and find the one that is most relevant and possibly the closest.

The above example illustrates the impact and importance of strategy in all elements of search and digital marketing including ad copy. If you’re serving your ads (road signs) at irrelevant times, wrong target audience or failing to answers the searches questions then your strategy is wrong and needs to be re assessed. Never underestimate how important ad copy is, because it delivers that crucial first impression potential customers are going to have of your business; it’s what will make or break their decision to click on your ad and visit your site.

Here are several pointers to get your ad copy strategy right!

  1. Write Specific Ads for Specific Keywords

Tailor your ad copy to the specific terms in your paid search accounts. Statistics tell us that visitors are more likely to convert to a sale, sign-up or other type of conversion when they see queries they’ve keyed into the search engines in your actual ad copy.

  1. Cater Ad Copy to Different Buyer Needs

As we all know, buyers are motivated by different factors (remember our road trip).

  1. Ad Copy Should Be Appropriate in “Feel” to the Industry Category

Use the appropriate ad tone for your audience. For example, if you’re selling children’s toys, ad copy can be lighter and more playful in tone than if you’re trying to sell to business executives.

  1. Consider the Buy Cycle

With many products and services there are several buying stages. At the beginning of the buy cycle, searchers may be looking for general information and product reviews, while at the end of the cycle they may be looking for return policy information or where to make a secure purchase.

  1. Analyse Paid Search Results

CTRs (Click Through Rates) and conversion figures are key (if your focus is to generate sales). With higher CTRs, advertisers generally get lower PPC prices and this can obviously have a significant impact on ROI (return on investment).

  1. Ensure PPC Data is Statistically Significant

Generally speaking, inconclusive data means ad tests haven’t been running long enough.

  1. Carry Over Ad Copy Keywords to Landing Pages

If possible, try to have the keywords in your ad copy appear on your landing pages (the pages that people go to when they click on your ads).

  1. Keep Testing Ad Copy

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to test. We like using A/B testing to get a feel for ad tone and overall market positioning. In general, the rule of thumb is to test at least 3 ads at a time per ad group.

  1. Spend Time Creating Killer Ad Copy

Killer copy doesn’t come out of thin air. It takes time to generate good ad copy, so give copywriting the time it deserves. I like to break up the task of generating ad copy. Try the following steps:

  1. Determine differences between you and your competitors. Or, in other words, get clear on your company’s USPs.
  2. Brainstorm copy segments like various USPs, product or service descriptions, etc.
  3. String copy together in various combinations.
  4. Write ads with different tones.

And finally… the one we are all probably guilty of not doing!

  1. Think Outside the Box

Road trips and billboards should now take on whole new meaning and there are a lot of factors to consider when creating ad-copy and implementing your strategy. If you need any help or further explanation on the ten point please give us a shout, we will be more than happy to help!

Have a happy and safe Journey.


Bandwagons filled with guff

January 7th, 2016 by Thomas Selby

jumping on the bandwagon

I hate guff. And bandwagons. Especially bandwagons filled with guff.

So as you can imagine social media does at times leave me exasperated. Especially on LinkedIn, it’s a professional network, not Facebook.

As you may have heard, BBC Three has a new identity.

After being forced onto its knees at gunpoint and asked to look away, the channel has risen from the ashes with a new shiny suit, ready to enter the world of online only entertainment.

The suit in question is a bright pink Adidas track suit with an exclamation mark as the third stripe, which I’ve taken as a nod to the channels focus on finding new breakthrough comedy and drama and the typically younger audience it attracts.

I actually quite like it and as one of the ignored millions who signed a petition asking the BBC to keep the channel, it gives me confidence that it won’t be side-lined now it’s off the air.

However as you would expect with anything new, the internet has reacted with a barrage of criticism. It seems bandwagons roll past like Swiss trains nowadays and there’s always room to jump on. The real problem here is that we haven’t seen the brand in action or any of the wider brand beyond the logo, it’s far too early to come to any informed conclusions. (Wait, does this mean I’ve inadvertently jumped on the bandwagon too!?!?!?)

With this and other topics, people from the ‘industry’ fire out comments and opinion without thought. You’d think peers would be a little more patient or sympathetic….

One of the most popular bandwagons at this time of year seems to be ‘the inspirational quote’. Why on earth would you use LinkedIn to post ‘profound’ quotes about life – surely it ruins credibility?

As it turns out, science agrees with me.

A team of researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, published a study called “the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit” .

The Oxford English Dictionary defines bullshit as, simply, “rubbish” and “nonsense”.

As part of the study the scientists used a website that would randomly generate ‘pseudo-profound’ sentences from a string of words, they then asked 300 subjects to differentiate between the made up sentences and actual philosophy quotes.

The report’s ultimate finding was a link between people who believe these ’profound’ statements and low intelligence. Stating that those who were more receptive to the made up statements were “less reflective and lower in cognitive ability (i.e. verbal and fluid intelligence, numeracy) and are more prone to ontological confusions and conspiratorial ideation.”

So we can now all assume that when someone posts a weird life affirming picture of a quote, they should probably be given a wide berth.

LinkedIn is a great tool to show real knowledge and well-formed opinion; I genuinely enjoy reading most of the things my network posts, and having an intelligent discussion about it. There are other places for us all to jump on bandwagons and post pictures of whatever we want, unfortunately LinkedIn is not the place if you want to be taken seriously. I’m not saying stop voicing your opinions, in fact I’m saying the exact opposite. Be mindful of your audience and platform, making proper use of the tools modern life has given us.  Next time you feel like posting a Deepak Chopra quote on LinkedIn remember this… science says it makes you look a bit thick.