Video: How Ikea Stores Intentionally Confuse You and Force You to Buy Stuff

Ikea's store design is literally messing with your mind—and pocketbook.


Ever been in an Ikea store, gotten lost, and then ended up leaving with a bunch of stuff you didn't originally want and maybe didn't even need? Don't feel ashamed if you have, because that's how Ikeas are designed to make you feel, according to Alan Penn, a professor of architectural computing at University College London.

If you're short on time, skip ahead to the 25-minute mark in this video for a fascinating explanation of how Ikea builds its stores in such a way that 60 percent of its customers' purchases weren't on their shopping list to begin with. In essence, the discombobulation may frustrate you, but it also loosens up your purse strings.

This impulse to buy based on disorientation isn't something Ikea invented. 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 environment."

Something to think about the next time you're in the market for a cheap futon and end up walking away with ice-cube trays that make little ice stars.