Imagine this…

You’re living in a sea of cardboard boxes.

It’s that dreaded time of life where you’re moving from one home to another.

As you look at all of your belongings, you know some things won’t be coming with you.

It’s time to part ways with your IKEA dresser

You’ve had it for years. It’s in great shape still, but it won’t fit in your new bedroom.

There’s a small part of you that’s sad to see it go though—after all, you built that dresser with your own hands (and the help of the IKEA instruction manual).

Nevertheless, it’s time to part ways and put it up for sale on Facebook Marketplace. You paid $300 for it so a $200 resale seems reasonable.

Within a few minutes of posting, you get a few messages from potential buyers. You open them excitedly but frown as soon as you read them.

One message asks if you’re willing to sell it for $150. Another has the audacity to ask if you’d take 80 bucks!

What bothers you so much about these lowball offers?

In today’s edition of Why We Buy, we’re exploring the Ikea Effectwhy we overvalue things we had a hand in creating ourselves.

Let’s get into it…

“Top Marketing Newsletters You Need to Subscribe To”

The Psychology of the IKEA Effect 🧠

The IKEA Effect is a cognitive bias that leads consumers to put a higher value on objects that they had a hand in creating.
There are a few reasons for this.

  1. Demonstration of competence & skills
  2. Intelligent cost savings

This is why people are quick to show off pictures of their HelloFresh meals on Instagram, but rarely post pics of takeout. There’s a sense of pride that comes from preparing something with your own hands..

Deep down, we’re all looking for a sense of control.

Completing a pre-defined task successfully gives us the feeling of accomplishment and control we so desperately crave in our lives.

Secondly, there’s a sense of intelligence that shoppers get when they make a money-saving decision.

Although you need to invest manual effort into building the item, the cost-saving compared to buying fully constructed furniture gives you a sense of satisfaction.

Inside Your Buyer’s Mind 🧐

While it may seem odd, many people don’t actually mind buying products that require some assembly or elbow grease. Sometimes they actually prefer it.

A 2011 study found that consumers are willing to pay 63% more for furniture they had assembled themselves, compared to an equivalent pre-built item.

But, there is a limit to how much work you can expect your buyer to do before they get frustrated.

Imagine if IKEA furniture didn’t come with instructions or the little twisty tool to screw in the pieces (officially called an Allen Key or Hex Key). What if the salad bar at a restaurant required you to wash your own lettuce and dice up cucumber before making your plate?

There’s a very fine line between “some assembly required” and “do it yourself”. 

How To Apply This 🤑

Alright, so how can we apply this right now to sell more?


Reward buyers for sharing their end result

If your product requires some assembly or is customizable, chances are customer would love to show off their handy work.

Find ways to incentivise them to share on social media. You could simply remind them to tag your brand if they post for a special discount or create an affiliate program. HelloFresh does both.

To date, there are over 260,000 Instagram posts that use the hashtag #hellofreshpics.

Embrace delegation

That’s a lot of free advertising.

(Psst: We did a deep drive on HelloFresh in a past issue of Why We Buy. Check it out.)


Build a customer advisory board

Lotsa tech companies have diehard fans—zealots who love their product.

Superfans often have strong opinions about how products develop. And while you certainly shouldn’t build every feature customer’s ask for—that’s a potentially deadly mistake—involving power users to contribute ideas or test new features is a great way to help them feel even more ownership over the product.

ConvertKit recently invited me to join a Slack channel for Ambassadors.

Embrace delegation

I was already a huge ConvertKit fan so getting an inside scoop on what’s coming next and other perks was a no brainer.

Retail & Hospitality

Create a space where customers can build together

As you know, buyers often enjoy the process of making stuff and feel pride in products they build themselves. That said, while people may want the final product, they may not want to invest in all the tools or hardware to make the product at home.

Businesses like Build-A-Bear provide a space where kids can build together. And wine kit companies are following suit by offering onsite wine making.


Inviting customers to your space turns the process of assembly from a solo activity to a fun activity they can do together. Wine making date night, anyone?

Service Business

Invite happy clients to contribute ideas

When you go above and beyond for a client, they’re happy to return the favor. That’s reciprocity at work. Conducting 1:1 interviews with real customers (aka Clarity Calls) is a great way to source ideas.

You’ll learn what motivates people to buy, which can inspire highly targeted marketing ideas, and walk away with juicy quotes from real buyers you can use in your marketing copy.

Sarah Hart is my go-to web designer. She’s revamping her own website and recently hired a copywriter. As a customer, I was absolutely tickled pink when Sarah’s copywriter reached out asking to interview me.


I already recommend Sarah often. Knowing my ideas—and possibly even my exact word—will go into Sarah’s new copy makes me want to recommend her even more.

The Short of It 💥

When we labor, we’re more likely to love.

If a customer feels like they helped build a product, they may value the end product much more.

But be warned—don’t overvalue things just because you created them. The market inevitably decides how much it’s worth (not your pride).

Interview your customers to see how price sensitive they are and if offering a “some assembly required” solution would satisfy that need.

Until next time, happy selling.



Wanna really get inside your buyer’s head?

There are a few ways I can help:

  1. Get explosive clarity about what works with buyers by learning how to conduct 1:1 Clarity Calls (2000+ happy students)
  2. *NEW* Learn how to mine online reviews from real buyers to generate ideas and copy that converts (250+ happy students)
  3. Book a 1:1 strategy call with Katelyn and get the answers you need to get unstuck and move forward with confidence

Written By Katelyn

Katelyn Bourgoin is the CEO of Customer Camp, a 4X founder, and a cheese lover. She lives by a simple mantra: whoever gets closer to the customer wins.

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If you can figure out what makes people tick, click and buy, you can make big $$$. We're working on a new research certification program. Want first dibs when we launch it? Hop on the waitlist.

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You're in!