Sweden vs. Finland – How do they differ?

June 12, 2017

As neighbours Sweden and Finland are quite similar in many ways, but as we have learned during our Informed Consumer study, there are a few big differences between them.

One of the biggest differences can be seen on the consumer maps. The Swedish groups are placed on the upper right side of the map where people are open to change and believe in freedom and universal equality. They are searching for significance in life. In Finland, the biggest groups are placed at the bottom of the map where people enjoy their balanced lives and are reluctant to change their habits. They believe in moderation and conservation.

One of the biggest reasons for this difference is the economic situation. The last 10 years the Finnish economy have not been developing as it should and at the same time Sweden has enjoyed strong economic growth with bright future prospects. It’s no wonder that Swedes look at the future with confidence and positivity. Hopefully, as the economic situation improves, this same positivity will be seen in Finland also.

In general, Swedes seem to have a bit more of a relaxed attitude in life. They take sustainable consumption seriously but don’t want to stress about it. This relaxed attitude has allowed sustainable lifestyle to become easy, mainstream and possible for anyone. In Sweden, organic food is the new normal, at least in the case of bananas.

Finns seem to be more afraid of failing and are constantly looking for mistakes. Some might like to try a vegetarian diet but are too hesitant to try. They are afraid that sometimes a nice beef burger might just be too irresistible for them. Swedes seem to know that little missteps are a normal part of life. And you can be a vegan – even just for one meal.

Swedes and Finns seem to have a bit of a different perception of trends and fashion. A Swedish consumer would buy shoes just because everyone else has them. In Finland this could be the biggest reason not to buy those shoes. Being original and standing out from the big masses is important, especially for the Finnish Autocrats, while Swedes love to follow the latest and the most popular trends and be more “lagom”.

If we want to serve the Swedish or Finnish consumer – or both of them –  it is crucial to recognise these differences and understand where they originate from. We here at the Kuudes Helsinki team strongly feel that looking a bit further and getting to know the Swedish consumer, has also helped us to understand the Finnish consumer better.


Roosa Luukkanen, Junior Insight Specialist, Kuudes Helsinki