January 9

Why does IKEA sell hot-dogs?


Have you ever wondered, why they offer hotdogs at the end of an IKEA-trip? The answer is: If they wouldn´t, you would leave the store directly after the emotional all-time-low-moment of the entire IKEA-experience.

Have a close look at the last few steps in the below illustration of a typical IKEA-Journey:

Hot-Dogs from a user-journey point of view:

Offering hot-dogs is a simple intervention to increase the customer-satisfaction towards the end of the customer-journey. By offering ridiculously cheap and (relative to price) good hot-dogs, IKEA ensures you leave the door with a broad smile on your face. Have a second look at the customer journey below. Hot-dogs seem to make all the difference in this case:

The difference between experiencing self and remembering self:

And as Kahnemann&Co. stressed in "thinking, fast and slow": Your remembering self tends to blurr out most details of a memory, except for the beginning and end of an episode. Therefore, whilst you experience the ups and down of a IKEA visit, you most likely will only remember the first and last bits of it, when evaluating your experience in hindsight. In the given IKEA example this means: The entire trip would end as a desaster without hot-dogs: With hot-dogs however a much more positive memory is being stimulated. And for anybody chasing the Net-Promoter-Score: This does mean the NPS most probably will rise.

Let´s compare the hypothetical remembered emotional value of an IKEA trip with & without the hot-dogs:

User Journey with Hot-dogs

User Journey without hot-dogs

As you can see - if only the very early and very last bits of an episode are remembered - the investment IKEA makes to say "farewell" and "see you soon" to their customers will pay off!

Who has learned from this?

Sweets with the bill in a restaurant and for children after they were "brave" and visited the doctor? Chocolate whenever you leave a SwissAir flight? Somebody respectfully opening the door for you upon leaving the store? The barbier gifting you a little head-massage or the pleasure of a heated towel towards the end of the service you purchased? Do you see a pattern emerging?

Now the only question that remains is:

How do you ensure your customers keep a fond memory after interacting with you? 
Let me know in the comments!



Example, User Journey Design, UX

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  • Going to IKEA in France a few items accounted for the worst purchase experiences I have been through

    Unfortunately a hot dog won’t change that and I never went again

    • well – probably that is the occasional slip in user-experience they are trying to avoid with the above discussed intervention – yet: I believe the hot-dogs are a smart move and hope you´ll have more positive experiences in the future (wherever you go).
      All the best, and thank you for your comment,

  • Similar but tiny example: I order small electronic supplies from a company that includes a tiny ziplog bag of a handful of candies with each order. I buy on price and feature – or so I tell myself – but I have now been trained to smile a little when I see the box delivered. It differentiates, and at a small cost that lingers goodwill for a day or two.

  • Well – this is why dentists offer kids a toy at the end of their visit since decades. So nothing special.

    Still it is a good example to demonstrate, that emotional and social jobs often influence decisions (IKEA shopping battle on a Saturday vs. The wardrobe is still fine) much more than the core functional job (shopping furniture NOW).

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