How IKEA gets you to impulsively buy more

How IKEA gets you to impulsively buy more

IKEA has mastered the “Gruen effect.”

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Researchers estimate that 50 percent of purchases are unplanned. These purchases, especially impulse buys, present an opportunity for retailers who can entice consumers to deviate from their shopping lists.

One of the most effective ways to influence this is through a store’s architecture. In the 20th century, the architect Victor Gruen, who pioneered the first American shopping malls, used light and space to dramatically stage goods in storefront windows. His designs were meant to capture the attention of passersby — and convert them into customers. This conversion became known as the “Gruen effect.”

Watch the video above to learn how Ikea has mastered the Gruen effect with a carefully designed store layout that gets customers to travel further distances… and buy more.

For the curious, here are a few links:

Read Jeffrey Inman’s research on unplanned spending:

Watch a video from University College London Professor Alan Penn, who breaks down Ms. Kazim’s research in greater detail:

And finally, I recommend reading Victor Gruen’s biography, “Mallmaker” by Jeffrey Hardwick. You can also learn more by listening to this 99% Invisible podcast episode that features Hardwick and details the history of the Gruen effect: is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what’s really driving the events in the headlines. Check out

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91 Responses

  1. EA 1017 says:

    Where’s Joss Fong 😤😤

    • Gandharv Sachdeva says:

      +FunAlchemist You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve been further even more decided to use even go need to do look more as anyone can. Can you really be far even as decided half as much to use go wish for that? My guess is that when one really been far even as decided once to use even go want, it is then that he has really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like. It’s just common sense.
      Edit: English is not my first language.

    • FunAlchemist says:

      @Gandharv Sachdeva.. Nice troll, its quite obvious that these are intentionally scrambled sentences. I’m confident you speak good English by the effort you’ve put in scrambling the words and ensuring there are no typos. I hope its original and not something dull like copy pasting something from the internet..Have a good day sir

    • EA 1017 says:

      Johnson Taylor my screen name has nothing to do with ea games it stands for “East Atlanta 1017” which is a Gucci mane trademark you know cuz I’m a fan of his music. No reason to have your panties in a knot smh

    • Brian Schumacher says:

      And what stereotype are you living up to?

    • Bernardo Patiño says:


  2. Austin Natan says:

    It’s probably the fact that you have been stuck in the IKEA for 3 weeks and has eaten nothing but sofas.

  3. Strider Hiryu says:

    You all tell me this after I just spent 700 dollars on them yesterday LMFAO irony

  4. Zzyzx Wolfe says:

    Aroused and excited customers? Oh my!

  5. Rui Ni says:

    The problem is easy to resolve: You make your shopping list along with a spending limit.

    If you have shopped everything you need and there are still money left, then walk another round to buy anything else you might like to buy until you have reached the spend list.

    This satisfied my mental requirement every single time.

  6. Lunatic Lunala says:

    IKEA is the place where even if you buy a map, you have to assemble it

    • Tech Freak says:

      +mar i  because he’s right, IKEA is like the least bad thing capitalism created but our healthcare system is an atrocity. You know what’s the difference between our healthcare system and the ones liberals want? It’s not the fact they’re socialized, it’s the price list: government regulations of prices because they value saving lives over profit. For instance, Finland uses insurance like we have, except you pay half and your employer pays half. But if you’re unemployed you get it payed by the government because human life is more important than profit. I don’t know about our housing system that part confused me.

    • Jason Schwartz says:

      Ikea is great if you have some self control. The quality and style is great for the price you pay. Other furniture stores have horrific designs / low quality or cost a fortune. Ikea is a great way to furnish a small space , I love my Ikea furniture.

    • Izzy M says:

      Your so Wright

    • Kansas Isn’t flat says:

      Lunatic Lunala the Ikea in Kansas is a maze

    • xi khloe ix says:

      +Kansas Isn’t flat i love mazes, if only i could go there lol

  7. Jkdabomb10A says:

    Interesting video as usual Vox, but the irony of needing the American Express Pay It Plan It sponsor is not lost on me.

  8. KMR_136 says:

    Tell us something we don’t already know Vox hahaha

  9. Will Bradbury says:

    I go to IKEA for the meatballs, doesn’t everyone?

    • Woofy Birbs says:

      +Captain Tomato i always get sour cream and onion chips from Ikea, but it’s because I like em. It’s not me being conditioned into buying them because it’s swedish food! I live in Italy, and if I wanted to get good quality food, I’d rather go to a restaurant.

    • Tema Vero says:

      +Woofy Birbs every time i go to ikea in Bologna i buy food at the end of shopping and it’s good!

    • Luz Montalvo says:

      The IKEA in my country doesn’t sell food :c


      Yup, but the veggie ones are uhhhhh….not very good. The best ones imo are the original (?) ones not the chicken ones either (bleh.) Also chicken tender and fries are pretty good too, but the soda just tastes like mineral water so….not too good.

    • xi khloe ix says:

      I go there to get lost

  10. Vox says:

    Victor Gruen’s early work was prolific. Some consider his indoor shopping mall the greatest building design of the 20th century. You can learn about the mall’s history as a social space, and why Gruen ultimately turned against his grand vision in this video: _Carlos W.

  11. Joseph Faulkner says:

    IKEA: I Kan’t Escape, Aaagh!

  12. 眩暈夢 says:

    Hang on. Stores try to sell you things? Get out of here…

  13. Diogo Matos says:

    I’m studying Persuasive Design and the example that my teacher gave for the 7 principles of PD was IKEA, because they actually adopt all of them. This was very interesting

  14. SirBallBag says:

    Unless you know how to use the secret shortcut doors

  15. AX System says:

    I was at the European Ikea just yesterday and even though it was not a weekend (weekends are full of people) there were quite a few people. In this video it doesn’t seem that the American IKEA has as many visits as in Europe, am I wrong?

  16. Plib Housen says:

    This video about consumerism is brought to you by American Express. Please buy more things.

  17. Kuku Boo says:

    I can’t even buy a simple shirt without thinking about it for a week.
    Maybe im immune against impulse purchases.

  18. AWESOME TV! says:

    I don’t buy things which are not necessary cause I’m broke!😅

    • Cam M says:

      +Derek Shelby Wait, sorry due. Didn’t realise you were responding to the guy subconsciously pronouncing protestant ethic (poor people being poor because of their own moral failure). So my previous comment is directed at the others. My bad, have a good one

    • Cam M says:

      +Tom ahhh, the life of indentured servitude due to the place you live consuming so much of your available finance that even moving is not an option. Been there… am there :/

    • Alexandra Valerious says:

      J D or they don’t make enough money on their paycheck to have a lot of disposable income after bills, food, and rent

  19. Andre Aguas says:

    “Presented by American Express”. Now that’s ironic.

  20. says:

    IKEA stores are like a *labyrinth of shopping.*
    Sometimes I just went there as an adventure to discover the fastest way to the exit 🙂

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