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Take Away, Don’t Just Add

Don’t fall victim to the temptation to add features, services, products, and markets every year. Consider how you can differentiate by taking away features IKEA is one of my favorite examples. They broke with tradition by eliminating features that were standard fare in other furniture stores. They took away in-store service, delivery and assembly. The stores are almost entirely self-service, but IKEA provides a distinctive, enjoyable shopping experience by offering clever, inspiring displays and ready availability of tape measures and note pads. You feel almost as if you’ve visited an amusement park.

Shoppers have to carry the products home themselves, but IKEA packages them into compact boxes that fit easily into a vehicle. Assembly is also a job performed by customers, but IKEA’s simple, stick-figure instructions make it fun, like assembling a LEGO toy (the Journal of Psychology reports that customers like their product more, and are even willing to pay more if they assemble their IKEA product themselves – amazing!). Our first experience with this was when we lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and we brought home a new dresser and assembled it with our young daughter. This created an enduring and positive family memory–tied indelibly to the IKEA brand.

While other furniture stores emphasize the durability and timelessness of their products, IKEA makes us think of furniture as a fashion accessory, something we can use for a while, and then replace. By taking away features, IKEA creates a compelling customer experience, and keeps prices amazingly low.

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