We normally associate the term "brainwashing" with Elizabeth Smart, cults, and self-help gurus. But one of the most powerful and financially harmful brainwashing campaigns of all time is currently being carried out by the last organization you'd expect: the minimalist Swedish furniture super-store known as IKEA.
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This is how Sweden invades a country.
People love IKEA. They really love it. They love it more than Jesus, even, if you take into account that more copies of the IKEA catalog are printed than the Bible.
None of this happens by accident, either. From the moment we step inside, IKEA deploys sly manipulation tactics meant to lure us into purchasing shit we don't need. Everything from the smell of their trademark meatballs to their bookshelves with goofy names we can't pronounce is a calculated decision made in the name of nothing else than lightening your wallet. Here's how they do it ...
4They Isolate You From Other Stores
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Quick! Think about all of the trips you've make to IKEA in your life! Now, quit crying for a moment and ask yourself this: when is the last time you walked out of IKEA and directly into another store without getting in your car and driving? That rarely happens, if ever at all, because IKEA makes it a point to be in the middle of goddamn nowhere.
A trip to IKEA isn't a quick thing. It involves time and planning, like a trip to Disneyland or figuring out when it's safe to fart in front of your significant other. No one just "pops in" to IKEA as they would a grocery store or pharmacy. Those places are readily available, sometimes within walking distance. If you can walk to IKEA, you probably live at a TGI Friday's.
And probably not a "fun" one.
No matter where you are, the nearest IKEA is probably a 20-minute drive away and situated in the kind of bleak suburb you've always had nightmares about settling down in. This isolation from the city center and urban areas is more than just a bold declaration that corporate Sweden gives not one fuck about your free time -- it's also part of IKEA's marketing strategy.
Shockingly, that monkey in a furry coat was not.
According to the Center for Management Research, the idea involves more than just eliminating competition by literally forcing you to drive miles away from it; it also makes a trip to IKEA more of an "experience." Because very few people drive 20 minutes just to window shop (they don't have windows anyway), that experience will inevitably involve spending money on something you don't need. Sure, it might just be their $1 coffee and a jar of lingonberry sauce, but the fact remains: that's less money for you, more money for IKEA. And things only get worse when you get inside.
3They Use Confusion and Chaos to Sell You Things You Don't Need
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Ever walked into the infamous IKEA labyrinth only to leave three years later? That's not a design flaw. The company, which I'm going to call "the Nickelback of Swedish furniture" this time to avoid continually repeating its actual name, purposely wants to disorient you and make you feel like you're lost in a corn-maze. The idea is to keep you trapped for as long as possible with very few ways to escape that don't involve the temporary break from reality that comes with finding a "great deal" among the super-cheap items they strategically place around the store in the hopes you'll relieve your boredom and hopelessness with an impulse purchase or two. You know, stuff like light bulbs, batteries, or a stuffed wolf eating a stuffed grandma.
It's in 76 different pieces when you first open the box.
The possibilities are nearly endless and completely unimportant. IKEA just wants your money, be it from your purchase of a stuffed animal that's described as "good at listening" or otherwise.
The chaos of the floor layout is matched only by the crime scene that is the average IKEA product display, which tends to look like something best described as "a bunch of shit haphazardly tossed into a pile." You'd think shoppers would appreciate a neatly stacked display, but you would think wrong. If that were the case, rest assured IKEA would keep it accordingly tight. But studies show that displays consisting of disheveled piles of crap actually boost sales.
From the IKEA Sopor line.
Apparently, mountains of clutter project better deals. Some stores even pile up their merchandise and mess it up on purpose to make it look like it's in-demand and popular.
So, if you've ever wondered why the inside of every IKEA looks like it's maintained by a crew of kindergartners, the answer is simple -- it's because you love that shit.