consumerism was born at ikea

Consumerism was born at IKEA

We have strong reasons to believe consumerism was born at IKEA. And we think we know how it all happened.

The Genesys

One day, as God was floating through his kingdom, he looked down on Earth to check up on his creation and saw that everything went as planned. The world was a quiet, peaceful place. Everyone minded their own business and Moses’ rules were being followed precisely. And all of a sudden, shit didn’t feel right. God realized that humanity is just… boring.

So he called Zeus and had a short, yet productive conversation:

God: – Hey Z, what’s up on your side of the legend?
Zeus: – Not much, dude. Everyone’s doing what they’re being told. There’s an occasional fight, but…
– What?! My people fight?!
– No bro, chillax. It’s Rhea’s kid, Poseidon. He’s being a total d*ck sometimes.
– Ah, okay. Hey, listen, don’t you think things are really boring down there?
– God damn, that’s weird!
– Yo, watch it!
– Shit, sorry. It’s strange because.. I was just thinking about it this morning.
– Great. Let’s play a nasty trick on them, shall we? You know, just to spice things up a little.

The plot

God: – Let’s give them something addictive, that would make them the prisoners of their own choices. Something they’ll keep doing and then hate themselves for doing it. Like, the need to consume. We can call it… consume…rism.
Zeus: – Oh, Jesus…
– (“Jesus? Hmm, that’ll be a cool name for a boy”, God thought.) So, what do you think?
– And how will we give them this “consume..rism“? Can we slip it in their food?
– Neah, I’m saving Salmonella for that trick.
– How then?
– Let’s wrap it in a fancy present, to get them to open it. Like a jewelry box! Do you have anyone we can rely on?
– There is this girl, Pandora…
– Great! So, are you in?
– I dunno man. That’s just… evil.
– I know, I just got off the phone with Satan. It’s crazy how much talent is being wasted down there… Anyway. I’m so doing this!

“He, who has entered IKEA with a shopping list and left with nothing but what was on that list, can cast the stone.” John, 8.

Making the promise

Every time we have to go to IKEA, there’s a psychological training session happening in advance:

– We need a new office chair.
– Do we, really?
– Yeah, this one broke my back. And it’s ugly.
– But it’s the same model you’ve been buying for years.
– Yeah, but this old chair has a certain ugliness to it…
– Fine, let’s go grab a new one. Where to?
– Well…
– Oh, come on! There are other furniture stores around. With nicer chairs and more empty shelves.
– But IKEA has that new model that looks just like the old, ugly one. Only this one is new and nice and comfy ?
– Fine. Go to their website, grab the code and let’s go. We’ll be in and out of the store within 15 minutes, okay?
– Yes, ma’am.
– Swear it.
– Cross my heart.

Breaking the promise

Three hours later and not a second more, we are heading to the parking lot. As expected, we carry one of those industrial shopping carts with us.

Light bulbs, organic cotton bed linen, a drawing set, new tableware, 12 water glasses, 6 wine glasses, and a bottle opener. Three lampshades, one for each room.

Flower pots. Coffee mugs. A warm blankie and matching pillowcases. Batteries, a doormat, scented candles. And, of course, a new office chair.

So what is it about IKEA that makes us break all the rules of common-sense shopping? What kind of sorcery makes you enter their store with one thing to buy and leave it with a cartful of things you didn’t need, but simply had to have?

Visibility & awareness

No one escapes the holy touch of our Sweedish friends. In case you missed the ∼50 ads that play on the radio or TV every day, or you’ve managed to ignore the 5×5 meters banners they displayed throughout the city, you surely found their printed catalog in your mailbox.
Anyone on this planet, newborn or way passed 100, can tell you what IKEA is and can recognize their logo. When it comes to visibility, IKEA is one of those brands that surely don’t go unnoticed.

Product portfolio

Everything you need (or don’t, but will buy anyway) inside your house, outside your house, in your attic, basement, yard, garage or on the roof, you’ll find at IKEA. Although they’re not strong on product diversity, they’re definitely good at reminding you what a 50.000+ SKUs inventory looks like.

Mood advertising

I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have bought that blanket if it was wrapped and piled up next to a poster that said “blankets for sale”. It caught our eye because it was brilliantly “thrown” on a king-size bed, its color matched the duvet perfectly and one of that blanket’s ends was laying on a fluffy carpet.

Therefore, that product presentation got us to believe that if we bought it, our room will look and feel just as heavenly as that decor did.

Smart product placement

If you’ve ever purchased as much as a toothpick from IKEA, you know that, right next to that toothpick stand, there’s a toothpick holder, a box of matching napkins and a set of matching coasters. They might be sold separately, but that particular arrangement makes you feel that if you don’t buy them all, your life is gonna be forever incomplete.

Affordable luxury

There’s no such thing as “I’m too poor to shop at IKEA”. The secret behind their success is that their products hold the perfect combo: attractive designs, qualitative materials, lovely textures, and affordable prices. Not everyone might be able to buy a dresser or a sofa from IKEA, but no one ever leaves it empty-handed. The store is filled with “consolation prizes”, from the small accessories you can find at the entrance, to the delicacies at their gourmet store, smartly positioned past the checkout.

(Self) Services

In-store consultants, home delivery, DYI product assembling, and online product manuals. Those are the first four things that come to our mind when we ask ourselves how’s IKEA different from other players in their industry.

The restaurant

I mean, who goes to IKEA and says “no” to their traditional meatballs?


It’s really up to each one (or all) of us to decide if consumerism is a good or a bad thing.

Now, of course consumerism wasn’t born at IKEA. But this is a great example of how merchandisers from all over the world managed to identify and exploit this weakness that God has dropped down on us to make sure we keep the economy spinning.

As for us, the consumers, we need to learn how to tell the difference between what we absolutely need, what we could use and what we want. That’s one way to save our budget, plus it prevents us from hoarding, which is a great chance to leave Marie Kondo unemployed ?

P.S.1: No, IKEA didn’t pay us for this article. But, judging by the number of things we bought from them so far, they could at least grant us the title of premium customers.

P.S.2: If you’re curious why is IKEA called IKEA, here’s the explanation.

P.S 3: the conversation between the Almighty and Zeus is 100% true.

consumerism was born at ikea

Authors: Vlad Diaconu, Andreea Mares