Saturday, 23 June 2018

The IKEA Conundrum

Few places match what IKEA offers. Not only in terms of goods but also in terms of analyzing human psychology and emotions and relationships. It is a giant experimental lab and if you analyze the footage from their CCTV’s, it will not only give you consumer and behavioral insights, but also insights into relationships as well. In fact, if I ever end up doing my PHD, this is the place that I will gather most of my data from for my thesis.

Folks who have visited IKEA before can perhaps relate to this piece. Close your eyes and picture yourself and the family at the start of the IKEA trip. You find a parking spot, yippee! Then you and your partner walk hand in hand to the entrance of the store. You are joined by other couples, also hand in hand, looking at each other with stars in their eyes.  This is the foundation of building our future together, baby/ Our place is finally getting a complete makeover, baby! How exciting!

All the star-struck, completely besotted in love couples slowly make their way up the elevator (all the time in the world now) and  pick up the order forms and pencils and paper tape measure (I always pick up two of those and of course don't use it even once). You marvel at the displays of bedrooms, living rooms, all gloriously lit up by cleverly concealed lighting that makes the displays so attractive. You ooh and aah and run your hands lightly through all the stuff (still lots of time left, no rush at all).  At this point in time, you haven’t still gone to the actual section from your original shopping list.

You land now in the IKEA restaurant section, yes that of the famed Swedish meatballs. Looking at the snaking queues, one would assume the country has come out of a meatball famine. After queuing up for what seems like hours, finally the order comes through and the couples feed each other bits of meatballs, looking indulgently into each other’s eyes, marveling at how spot on the price Vs taste is, for this generous portion.

Now folks, this is the point where the imbalance in the relationship starts. The man now is now completely replete with the meatballs and all he can now think is of going back home and plonking on the couch and watching some telly. The woman however, has realized that nothing in her original list is even short-listed, never mind finalized and she starts panicking slightly. Urging her man to help her pick out her list, but by now the man is too far gone, he has reached the point of no return. If you look closely at most couples in the sections after the restaurant, you will notice that  most of them are no longer holding hands, nor love-struck and one person is lagging behind the other, with some good bit of muttering under the breath.

Finally the couple reach the billing section and this is where the man completely loses it. What was intended as a trip with a budget of X, has now finally become a trip of 4X, burning a hole in his wallet. Perhaps IKEA realises that the chance of  return visits to the store is minimal in this state of mind, so in a last feeble attempt to lighten the mood and make the man happy, they sell HOTDOGS at the exit, all for an amazing 75 cents each, the cheapest Hotdogs in the planet. The man’s face lights up looking at this oasis in the desert. Once he has had about 4 Hotdogs, all is well and right with the world, the couple is back again holding hands and walk out into the glorious sunset with a burp.