Five Strange Findings from Swedish Homes

September 5, 2016

How do Swedish people live, think and consume? During the summer of 2016 we covered 2900 km around Sweden, visiting 30 different homes to gather insights for our Informed Consumer study.

Here we’d like to share the first five surprise discoveries we found in Swedish homes.

1. Sweden is also nervous. We had a naive prejudice that Swedish people live in their happy bubble, protected from the big political and economical threats that are strongly influencing Finnish values and attitudes right now. But the Swedes are equally scared. The difference is their reaction to it. We didn’t find big growth in the stagnant group like in Finland, instead we found people willing to look to the future.

2. Swedes stock their freezers with chicken filé and other meats. The frozen pack is a kitchen essential to most of the informants we met. We haven’t seen this behaviour before. Why here? Does this reveal something about Swedish attitudes towards price-awareness, meat-eating or food waste? Or is it just a consequence of the Swedish supermarket selection, package-sizes and pricing?

3. Swedes love sparkling water. We found a Soda Stream in half of the homes that we visited. What’s up with the fizzy drinks? Maybe the Swedes are just this one machine ahead of Finnish consumers. What is seen as a luxury on one side of the bay is a necessity on the other.

4. Finnish products are the choice of a quality-conscious Swede. We found Fazer, Valio and Iittala in a few homes, and Finnish food was described as clean. In terms of quality and locality they were comparable to local Swedish products, while Danish food raised strong suspicions. On the other hand Finnish products don’t seem to be very distinguishable or emotional in Sweden.

5. The Swedes don’t stress about being sustainable. Most of the people we met were perfectly satisfied with their consumption habits. They didn’t expect to be perfect but were proud of the good actions they are already taking. Sustainability had become a part of their ordinary life. We think Finland should follow Sweden, since happiness is a far better motivator than a guilty conscience.

We need a profound understanding of what drives people’s efforts towards sustainability. We aim to be a Nordic expert on consumer values and attitudes and how they conflict with people’s daily routines. This is the key to meaningful concepts and design that actually function in real life.

Even small, repeat behavioural patterns might be the key to an important discovery, some might just be random coincidences. We will continue to analyse our findings and compare it to the extensive data of our nation-wide quantitative study conducted in Sweden this summer. We have already learned a great deal – also about the Finns.

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Saara Järvinen, Insight Specialist & Designer, Kuudes Stockholm