Now Reading: The IKEA effect and customer co-creation

First Look: December 18 – HBS Working Knowledge – The IKEA effect -The IKEA effect

There’s a nice sense of accomplishment that comes with creating something from scratch, whether it’s a batch of brownies or a bookshelf. It feels so good, in fact, that customers are often willing to pay more for build-it-yourself products than for identical products assembled by others. Experimental researchers Dan Mochon, Michael I. Norton, and Dan Ariely uncover the reasons behind this tendency in their article “Bolstering and Restoring Feelings of Competence via the IKEA Effect,” published in the International Journal of Research in Marketing.

For those who have been hearing about the IKEA effect, first described by these authors, but actually discovered through the marketing of cake mix in the 1950’s.

This paper reviews a few experiments utilizing college students about their interest (willing to pay) in products that they put together vs ones that are pre-assembled and how this is mediated by feeling competent (answer it is mediated by this feeling). In other words, people are willing to pay more for products that they build themselves because it enhances their competence. In further experimentation discussed in this paper, manipulating their feeling of competence influences their willingness. Test subjects whose competence is affirmed are less likely to want to engage in co-creation (building their own IKEA box) or pay for co-creation.

Implication for behavior change? Perhaps segmenting the types of people who will be interested in, and value the sharing of their health achievements?


@ReginaHolliday @kaitbr and maybe why, if health care made patients feel competent, they wouldn’t want to fix it so badly.

Dr. Ted, this has huge implications for HealthcareDIY: that is, people taking on more self-responsibility for health care both clinically and financially. We’re seeing more and more health citizens translating what they’re doing for financial services, travel planning and photo development — via Schwab and eTrade online, Expedia and, and Shutterfly — in health care. This is a big development in the post-Recession environment. So the Ikea Effect explains some of that. Thanks for sharing this great article…and happy, healthy new year! JS

Jane Sarasohn Kahn Jane, I consider myself accomplished in blogdom when I pique your interest 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to let me know that I succeeded and happy new year! Ted

Ted Eytan, MD