When Dan Ariely built a chest of drawers that he bought from IKEA, he didn’t enjoy the process. But, once he finished, he noticed that he looked at the chest of drawers a lot and felt a sense of pride.
So, Dan, Mike Norton, and Dan Mochon conducted an experiment where participants were asked to make origami cranes. When they built easy cranes, they found that the creators of the cranes were willing to pay 5x more for their creations than neutral buyers. This difference went up for harder-to-build cranes.
P E Duff discovered this idea in the 1950s when the easy-to-make cake recipe didn’t sell all that much. Sales picked up when they made the recipe more complicated and included complicated instructions to decorate cakes with frosting.
Zappos built its reputation as a great place to work by allowing their employees to build their own experiences. They could build their cubicles and their own call scripts. Zappos understands that we’re all toddlers. And, like all toddlers, we love things we build.
We often dream of paying others to do our chores, cook our food, etc. But, given how much we love putting in work and tasting the fruits of our labor, are these dreams contributing to feeling alienated in our lives? In the long run, these minor annoyances may be our sweetest memories. A little sweat equity pays itself back in meaning. And, that is a high return on investment. – Dan Ariely
Source: Payoff by Dan Ariely, The IKEA Effect study