30 homes – 3 insights that explain the success of informed consumption in Sweden

February 13, 2017


Sweden is a forerunner in the shift from materialism to post-materialism and sustainable lifestyles. We have conducted a broad study of 1005 Swedish consumers and toured 2900 km around the country to conduct 30 interviews. Here are three important insights from the people we met.

1. No more extremes
The Swedish don’t aim for perfect ideals, they do their best and allow themselves guilty pleasures. You can be vegan for just one meal. This relaxed attitude has allowed sustainable lifestyle to become easy, mainstream and possible for anyone.

2. Media sensitivity
People are following the constant newsfeed provided by Omni on their phones. Rarely they read more than the headline but they do want to stay aware. The hot topic of last summer’s interviews was Danish meat. We met people from very different backgrounds but most of them were talking about antibiotics, hormones and bad treatment of animals. The Swedish are extremely sensitive to trends and media. Therefore such debates create big long-term effects in behaviour unlike neighbouring Finland, where people are more hesitant to react.

3. Hunger for meaning
People used to define themselves through religion and social classes. This is long gone in Sweden, but the need to understand where you belong and what your purpose is has not disappeared. Now significance is found in consumption choices, from ecological pantyhose to sustainable travel. The consumers are becoming more demanding and will not accept half-hearted sustainability that mass-market products often offer. And that’s great because we’ll be forced to design better things for them.

We think the future looks very bright. We are not doing this research to know how to manipulate people better. We want to serve the critical, informed consumer and understand what brings meaning and balance to their lives. That is also sustainable, successful business.

Saara Järvinen, Insight Specialist & Designer, Kuudes Stockholm