Learning from emerging future possibilities

March 8, 2018


The idea of searching for trends in order to gain a glimpse of the future has become irrelevant. The gap between the now and the future has narrowed down to being so small, that it is safe to say, the future is now. The speed of change has impacted us so, that guessing what lies around corner has been replaced by the need of actively creating and defining the future.

It has been said, that we are living the times where the visionary and bold companies thrive. We here in Kuudes think, that the companies who have the curiosity and openness to explore people’s values, motives and hopes, get rewarded.

Companies, who are actively willing to try to define what kind of world they and their customers want to live in. Companies, whose actions and offering reflect their customers’ values. Since already today, for people it is not any longer about buying a service or a product. It is about being a part of the change.

We have gathered a collection of interesting needs that we consider impactful, interesting and relevant. Kuudes Watchlist emerges from the main themes of the Informed Consumer, our in-depth study done since 2008.

Kuudes Watchlist 2018


Insects and plants in different forms – this is what happened in Finnish grocery stores in 2017

February 7, 2018

Grocery shopping is an inseparable part of our everyday lives. We visit the grocery store almost every day and buy the same products almost every time, or at least it might feel like it. That is why it’s hard to see what kind of changes have happened in the way we do our grocery shopping and the way we eat. In this post, I sum up a few of the biggest changes in the Finnish shopping basket in 2017.

The oat milk revolution

When Oatly started the oat milk revolution a few years ago some might have thought that calling it a revolution is an exaggeration. But the year 2017 showed that it wasn’t. In Finland, the selection of plant-based milk products has exploded. Even Finland’s biggest dairy company Valio is introducing their own plant-based product range. If that is not a revolution, I don’t know what is.

Eating insects

Insects are said to be the food of the future. In Finland, the future started in September of 2017 when The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry unexpectedly announced that insects are allowed to be sold as food. Studies have shown that Finns are relatively very open to the idea of eating insects. That’s why it is not a surprise that when Fazer introduced the world’s first insect-based bread for Finnish consumers, the bread was sold out quickly!

Flexitarianism – the new normal

2016 was a big year for Finnish plant-based food innovations, such as Pulled Oats and Härkis. Some were worried that they are only shooting stars that will disappear as quickly as they appeared. 2017 showed this fear to be wrong. It is justified to say that in 2017 Pulled Oats and Härkis became essential parts of the Finnish everyday diet.

Accepting ready-made food

The image of convenience food has changed a lot during the last couple of years. Eating convenience food has been accepted as a part of everyday life, instead of something to feel bad about. There is a lot of variety to choose from, and new products that are suitable for different diets are constantly entering the market. Still, classics are strong; year after year liver casserole is the most popular convenience food in Finland.

Innovative packaging

Packaging is an essential part of the product. In the beginning of 2017, the Finnish meat and food company Atria introduced a new vacuum pack for minced meat which uses over 50 per cent less packaging material compared to traditional minced meat packages. Looking forward to seeing more environmental-friendly and efficient packaging innovations in 2018!

It is interesting to see what kind of changes next year will bring to the Finnish grocery stores. Undoubtedly one of the biggest topics and most visible changes will be seen in the alcohol section due to the new alcohol law. But how much it will affect the consumption habits, is yet to be seen.

Roosa Luukkanen, Junior Insight Specialist, Kuudes Helsinki

Stockholm Trend safari

October 2, 2017

In our Trend safari we take you on a customised guided tour in Stockholm to investigate recent disruptions to your field of business – in the real world. Together we will explore how these new services and spaces are catering new values and needs to customer segments’ that are of interest to your company. You will leave with a deeper understanding of both relevant mega trends and with insights about your customers; inspiring new opportunities to serve them better.

Thanks to our deep understanding of Swedish consumers we have been able to gather a few examples from in and around Stockholm reflecting on these consumers’ interests and behaviour around the three main trends; Significance, Self-importance and Moderation.



In the past, we used to define and defy our norms through religion and social classes. The role of these have become very small in the North now, and especially in Sweden. However, our need to understand where we belong and what our purpose is hasn’t disappeared, but instead we look for significance in our consumption choices.


Urban Deli has a wide range of locally produced and organic food, and offers transparency both through communication and packaging as well as visualising the raw products in-store.


Le Violon Dingue works with transparency of the production process in a different way, by letting the customers take a look into the bakery side. They can also buy the flour that’s used by the bakery, if they decide to bake themselves next time.


Mårda bread bag is a product that offers an easy way to make life longer for fresh bread, made from recycled fabric.


Both Matapoteket and Mahalo serves plant-based and healthy options for lunch, coffee and take-away, something that makes a healthy lifestyle easier to live up to.


Traditional cheese shop and bar at Ostbutiken, that offers a selection of cheese from Europe in a very authentic setting.


By offering low percentage and non-alcoholic beers and drinks, Folkölsbutiken gives the customers more options and availability and puts them in control of choosing.



We value the ambitious, strong individual. We strive to be unique but hectic life forces us to go for pre-made individuality that matches the style of our peers. Self-importance is about consumption being a way of self-expression and a way to relate to a preferred reference group.


Products from Nordic Superfood puts the consumer in charge of their health and diets and opens up for creativity in cooking and eating.


Particular food can be used as a medicine and improve our lives. At Cleansing Days customers can choose between short term fixes around their health as well as long-term changes and a trendy lifestyle.


Café Pascal is one of the most popular places for lunch and weekend hangouts, where people spend hours enjoying cold drip coffee and sourdough bread meeting up with friends.


Extremely photo-friendly food and drinks and a concept store selling interior details and coffee table books offers the perfect combination for a creative but mainstream customer, at Snickarbacken 7.


Independent juicebars are popping up all around the city. At juiceverket they serve freshly squeezed juices of all kinds, that can be consumed as a replacement for lunch or just complimenting a regular meal.


Unique looking mass-products that comes in many different shapes, but in one classic flavour; liquorice.

Services like home deliveries gives the customers time to focus on what’s important in their lives instead of spending time on boring routine activities.



The North has undergone a fast shift from societies with tight communities to an extremely individualistic culture. Consumption is also a way to seek security in the middle of external changes; we buy what we are used to buying, and solid long relationships with brands and products make our lives easier.

Grow at home, pickle vegetables and store your dry commodities in the best possible way. At Sally Voltaire & systrar they sell a wide range of products that makes this easier to do, to reduce food waste.


At Ulriksdal Slottsträdgård you can only pick whatever is in season, and at a “self-service-price” forcing the customers to make sustainable choices.


Distinctive packaging and clear communication at Paradiset grocery store, makes buying products and brands we recognise easier.


Stockholm Trend safari example by Leena Fredriksson, Trend Specialist, Designer / Kuudes Helsinki & Johanna Westin, Concept Designer /Kuudes Stockholm

Photographs: Leena Fredriksson, Trend Specialist, Designer, Kuudes Helsinki

To read more about the Informed Consumer study, please visit: www.theinformedconsumer.fi

Want know more and book a Trend safari?

Annika Mesimäki

Managing Director, Kuudes Stockholm

+46 723 886 522



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

What does your media bubble look like?

May 19, 2017

Fake news, Macron, AI, WannaCry, veganism, IKEA Frakta bag, Leonardo DiCaprio, gluten, Kylie Jenner, #fitspiration, Bibimbap, Skam, Omni, Omnipollo. Our view of the world around us is largely dependent on which sources of information we rely on, through which media channels we consume it, as well as the people around us.


The world is transitioning from a traditional “everyone gets kind of the same information” through newspapers, magazines, TV and radio, to “everyone gets kind of their own information” through Google, related articles on news sites, Facebook feed, banners, recommendations on Spotify, newsletters through emails etc. Online you get profiled by the way you browse, what you read and click on, what you listen to, what you sign up for, which websites you visit and what you like on social media channels. This information is then used by publishers and brands to target you with relevant content and advertising you are most likely to be interested in. As a result, you get catered with content (e.g. articles, videos, music, whitepapers, product and service recommendations, banners) that support the trace you leave behind, perhaps in line with your own values and beliefs. This creates individual bubbles where you get more and more narrowed content that matches your own interests and less of the “general opinion”.

For companies, not to mention political parties, marketing automation technologies allow you to customize messages on an individual level to the masses. This can be a double edged sword, on the one hand, we get more of what we want and what we are interested in. On the other hand, we get more decentralised in our world view allowing us to be easy targets for an unprecedented amount of disinformation, so called ‘alternative truths’ and fake news. Online, there is no higher power that tells you what is actually true or false. However, one example of an initiative taken to tackle this disinformation, was during the recent French presidential elections, when the newspaper Libération, together with J. Walter Thompson Paris created a human search engine with real-life journalists helping out to sort facts from fiction (source: Creativity).


The Informed Consumer study

Understanding the consumer is a crucial part of our work at Kuudes. In the Informed Consumer study we dive into the the motives and most recent trends underlying consumer choices. Looking at the four field matrix of our consumer study in Sweden, one could say that the groups that are placed lower in the matrix (The Bystanders and The Considerate) are at the slower end of adopting new things. Traditional media such as TV, local newspapers and radio are still widely used in these groups. The Considerate is the most inactive group in using social media, however, for those who are active, Facebook is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. In the ethnographic part of this study we discovered that for these two groups, Aftonbladet and Expressen was often mentioned as main sources for both news and entertainment. This group is still a bit sceptical about security online, for example, 61% of The Considerate would buy more online if it felt more reliable.

Read more about the Swedish consumer groups.


When we look at the middle of the matrix, where The Smart and The Seekers are placed, we can see a digital behaviour pattern that is more multi-channelled. The Smart, spend most of their time online comparing prices, products and looking for great deals, while The trend aware Seekers spend their time online getting inspired by lifestyle, interior and fashion websites. Whilst The Smart are typically only on Facebook, The Seekers are the most active social media users of all the groups (Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Tumblr). However, being “on point” takes time away from keeping up with all the other stuff that is going on in the world (e.g. politics & news).

The well-connected Achievers are frequent users, often several times a day, of social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin and sees themselves as a part of the global world. In our Swedish study we also learnt that The Achievers especially, are prone to follow many news sources through an aggregator app called Omni, where they get all the headlines of the day, but don’t necessarily have to open the news for a fully detailed article. This group thinks it is important to know what is going on in the world for the sake of being able to have an educated conversation, even though the topic in itself might not necessarily be that interesting for them.

The Independent and The Committed are concerned about the world. While The Independent are more worried about politics, economy and terrorism, The Committed are more devoted to the environment, animal rights and sustainability. The journalistic quality of sources is considered important and they are less active on social media than the other consumer groups. Both groups are critical to what they see and read online, and consider Facebook, Aftonbladet and Expressen more as entertainment than a source for news. These groups also show great passion in their own favourite hobby, niche or field. During the interviews we met, amongst others, a bike fanatic, a small copper object collector and a Mods enthusiast.

The discussion above touches upon and discusses the variety of information the groups are exposed to, and therefore also the different realities and bubbles the consumer groups live in. A brand’s values are communicated through both planned (e.g. advertising, press releases, website) and unplanned messages (reputation, online word-of-mouth, news), and through content marketing, brands have the possibility to spread powerful messages that potentially could reshape those bubbles. A good example for this is an initiative by Heineken, showing how brands can take a stand for what they believe in. It is important to know your customer, but you should not only say what your customers want to hear but also challenge them and fight for your brand’s values.


Read more about Kuudes

Michael Biaudet, Project Manager, Kuudes Stockholm

Looking for empathy

April 10, 2017

At the Swedish Informed Consumer study launch event, the talented anthropologist Erika Tanos asked us to close our eyes and imagine the people she was describing. She asked us to imagine what they might look like, how they might have decorated their homes and how they might relate to people around them. Even though we had our eyes closed it was an eye-opening experience for many. The people Erika talked about felt real and close. It felt like we would have been there in their homes with Erika.

This is a great example why we here at Kuudes emphasise empathy in everything we do.
Without empathy, i.e. the capacity to feel what others feel and see what others see, our work becomes shallow. Without empathy, we are constrained by our own beliefs and values. That is why we want to keep on learning to understand consumers. We want to know how they live their everyday life, what brings them joy and what is important to them. The best way to understand them is meeting them in person – and being empathetic.

Through our extensive studies in Finland and Sweden, we have learnt to see beyond our own “bubble” and understand people from different backgrounds and starting points. We have seen so many different houses, met so many different people and heard so many different stories. We have learnt that you can never know who’s going to open the door. By visiting several different homes, we have started to understand different people; their values as well as their attitudes and motives that drive their everyday consumption choices. This has given us the knowledge to design credible concepts, fascinating brands and appealing packages for different people. The same concept doesn’t work for all and that is okay. We understand that people are not motivated by the same things.

It is good to step in someone else’s shoes for a while. Good for business and good for us as humans.

Roosa Luukkanen, Junior Insight Specialist, Kuudes Helsinki

Shopping for a better world

March 21, 2017

We are living in the information age. Consumers are making more informed decisions. Informed decisions take into account the consequences of consumption. The purchasing power of consumers brings social change that makes life more satisfying. For many of us material needs have been satisfied, therefore consumption is starting to focus more on purpose.


Informed purchase decisions can be seen as the search for satisfaction. Consumers are emphasising a sense of meaning and purpose. This became apparent in our survey in Sweden (n = 1005), carried out in summer 2016. Most participants felt they could make a difference: “Consumers have great power but we are not using it to that extent.”

79 % of citizens don’t normally buy a new product before the old one is worn out or broken
75 % of citizens think that responsibility is a requirement for quality
52 % of citizens will happily sacrifice their own comfort for the common good
48 % of citizens are worried about the state of the world and this guides their consumption choices.

Seven consumer segments in Sweden

We identified seven consumer segments (Figure 1). Considerations of individual virtue and value seem to be an essential motivator in purchase decisions. One can buy organic local products for supporting local well-being rather than for environmental reasons. Consumer behaviour is an expression of moral self-realisation.

Figure 1. Identified Swedish consumer segments according to the Theory of Basic Human Values by Shalom Schwartz.


THE INDEPENDENT are the biggest consumer segment in Sweden. They know what is important to them and what gives them life satisfaction. The Independent value being open to change. They have a strong inner need for pleasure, excitement and new experiences. It is based on a strong sense of efficacy – they feel they can make a difference.

They prefer ascetic and aesthetic surroundings. Even if they are looking for new experiences, they favour leasing and hiring instead of owning. They are ready to adopt mobility-as-a-service. One of them said: “Everybody drives their own car. That is insane.”

THE COMMITTED are strongly guided by their values. The gap between their thoughts and actions is narrow. They value independent thoughts and actions, as well as self-transcendence. They enjoy the simple life and a sense of community. They have recognised that a work-and-spend mentality alienates them from what really matters.

The Committed want to make a difference. They are worried about the world. It decreases their happiness but brings increased meaning to their lives. They demonstrate social compassion and are knowledgeable about environmental topics. They do what they can but they are not fanatical: “I pay pollution tax. We rent a car in summer, we take the train. You do what you can.”

THE CONSIDERATE are the oldest consumer segment (53 % of them are over 60 years old). Their behaviour is directed by security, conformity, tradition and benevolence. They value safety, harmony and stability of life. The Considerate are cautious and slow to adopt new habits. They value respect, commitment and acceptance of the customs and ideals that traditional culture or religion provide. The Considerate are motivated by their compassion for others.

Currently, 54 % of them are homeowners. This is the highest percentage amongst the seven consumer segments. In future, members of the Considerate with relatively small income may realise that they can make some extra money by renting out what they already own.

THE ACHIEVERS value hedonism, self-enhancement, achievement and power. They want to maximise their experiences so they don’t miss out on anything in life. Their everyday choices are linked to financial success and status. They value power because it helps manage other people and things.

The Achievers are not ready for the sharing economy: “There are a lot of people talking about the sharing economy, but it’s not something for us.” Despite this they could be the first consumer segment to adopt the concept of ‘wellbeing as a service.’ They are ready to utilise personalised online services, which help them understand who they are and what is best for them.

THE SMART have diverse values. None of their values stand out by comparison. The Smart are relatively young people (63 % under 50). They have the lowest income of the seven consumer segments. However, they have found their ways to enjoy life. They are happy with a frugal life.

The future of the Smart is difficult to predict because they are opportunists. They could completely withdraw from their current way of life. Some are ready for the sharing economy: “I’m using a tool pool in the housing community.” However, some show progression towards a money-is-everything attitude.

THE SEEKERS are looking to find themselves because they are young (86 % are under 50). Their purchase decisions are directed by stimulation, hedonism and achievement. The Seekers are also driven by social standards. What is not illegal is acceptable to them, they don’t question norms.

The Seekers are used to taking survival for granted. They are interested in moving from ownership to the use of services. 43 % of them already live in rented apartments. The sharing economy is apparent in their thinking: “I could share with someone I can trust.” 

THE BYSTANDERS form a consumer segment that prefers security, conformity and tradition. They prefer to sit back and see how things will work out before jumping on board. They feel they can’t make a difference in society.

The Bystanders are resilient citizens because they focus on essential matters in their lives and they desire to live in peace. They are so cautious and critical about new influences that they can be immune to the conflicts people face in a complex world.

Purpose-driven consumption is growing

In Sweden, people enjoy the egalitarian culture of the country. Consumers seem to be moving from a focus on economic and physical security to values emphasising self-expression and a sense of meaning and purpose. Sweden is a fascinating society to study because it’s a forerunner in the shift from materialism to post-materialism. In everyday life, this means that the importance of ownership has decreased, services are used instead of owning goods, and the renewal of goods is motivated by real needs. This enhances consumers’ life satisfaction and provides better opportunities for the next generation.


Dr. Arto O. Salonen, Research Director (Metropolia), Adjunct Professor (University of Helsinki)

Are Swedish consumers no longer “lagom”?

March 6, 2017

Western consumer cultures produce social norms formerly created by the Church, the State or the class society. Norms produced on the market change rapidly and are created to increase production and consumption. In the Swedish setting market-based norm production is reflected in 3 themes; Significance, Self-importance and Moderation, which have implications for how Swedish consumers behave.

In Sweden consumption is Significant

In a world of mass-produced products and services we have a need for a personalized way of consuming. This is a reflection of an increasing individualized world where collective and stable norms of the past, based in religion and social class, have been replaced by fluid and ever-changing norms produced by dominant market actors. In the Swedish setting social democratic values are paired with very little religious influence on our moral stance. In such a context, the Swedish “folkrörelserna”, have had a big impact on norm production. As an example, in the Swedish food retail market, the cooperatively owned Coop (historically developed the cheap no-logo products called “Blå vita varor”) has taken the lead in developing and selling organic and fairly traded products and has influenced competitors in food retailing to take up the fight over the eco-conscious food consumer. Thus, in Sweden there is a very wide range of sustainable food items on sale and the competition between organic food items is fierce. All 3 dominant actors in food retailing have developed a large range of private label organic foods which are important marketing tools. In addition, Svenska Naturskyddsföreningen (runs the eco certification schemes “Bra Miljöval”), Fair Trade and KRAV (the Swedish certification schemes for organic food) have been very active on the Swedish food retail market. All these organizations are highly visible in the media and cooperate with the big food retailers. Given this background it is not surprising that Swedish consumers want to consume in a responsible and socially “good way”. In a market where sustainable goods are regarded as marketing tools and where certifications schemes as KRAV, Fair Trade and SNF are highly visible, Swedish consumers respond by increasingly want to buy products and services that reflect fairness, solidarity and sustainability. Buying eco-friendly and fairly traded goods is meaningful and authentic on an individual level in a world of abundance.

In Sweden poverty is fought, and equality is viewed, in terms of the ability to consume. The strong social democratic tradition in cooperation with the unions and the business community have fostered a view of the normal life – the so called “folkhemmet” – as one including specific products. Today, a in a middleclass Swedish household, everyone above the age of 6-8 yrs has a cell-phone (Sweden and Norway have most cellphones/capita in the world), large flat TV:s is the norms (everybody replaced the fat TV:s with flat ones half a decade ago), espresso machines, MacBooks and minimum one car (not in the city center).

Sweden is a very trend sensitive country and Swedes are very quick to pick up new products and trends. That is why P&G Nordics has its head office in Sweden – to be able to follow what products that succeed and what do not, in the Swedish setting. Maybe this is linked to Sweden being seemingly homogenous when it comes to style and design. Almost everyone have white walls indoor and if you walk the streets in Göteborg and Stockholm you see that all girls have the same haircut, same type of jacket, same jeans design etc.

In Sweden consumption is important for the Self

When norms are produced on the market (of which consumers are part) individuals face the challenge of finding out themselves the answers to existential questions like “who am I?”, “what is right and what is wrong?”, “what is the meaning of life?” etc. Thus, identity-making becomes individual, something that every one of us must deal with (as compared with the past when the church or stable social classes provided answers to these questions. In our consumer focused societies we undertake this identity work in the marketplace by reacting to products and product representations (advertisements, media dependent product accounts). In a secular country like Sweden, which is considered to be the most individualized country in the world consumers tend to be excited and are cheered up by consuming – style and creativity is important. Needless to say, we live in an experience marketing age, and from a Swedish perspective, consumers must be provided with emotional benefits in order to consume. Why? Because Sweden is one of the most affluent countries in the world on average and in order to convince people who already have everything, to buy something new or more, there must be a socially valued experience connected to the product or service. The work rich, time-poor Swedish middle class have little time for reflection and they tend to go with the flow – i.e. they consume according to the latest trend, a kind of existential quick-fix. Those people that oppose consumption norms have the time and ability to scrutinize market communications and ask themselves “do I really need this?”

But also Moderation matters

In an era of individual norm production the assurance of brands is important. Brands can be perceived as providing security when the world goes insane, they can make us feel at home, confident that we have and are what is considered normal. Brands have in a sense replaced social relations in the provision of security and togetherness, and this development is enforced and sustained by social media (brand communities etc). Swedish consumers need continuity and “tradition” in a Swedish society that quite fast has moved from a collective view on welfare (social democratic old school) to a highly neo-liberal and individualized political scene.

What about the future?

It is probable that in Sweden the market and its mass-produced offerings will cease being the main meaning-providers in the future. One reason behind this statement is the industrialization of for example ecological food which implies constant price-sustainability negotiations. As a consequence there will be debates like “can mass produced products be sustainable” and subsequent doubts among consumers. Hence it is probable that products produced in smaller quantities, in non-industrial settings, maybe to the advantage of local employment and environment will take on meaning producing qualities and gain significance among consumers. Collective social norms will gain importance as climate change, migration and other serious issues will become more threatening. We already see fast fashion turning into slow fashion and probably the market will take advantage of more collective moral understandings. Swedes will trust brands for many years to come but brands will have to change in terms of how they source their goods (sustainability!) and appearance.

Cecilia SolérSenior Lecturer Associate Professor,
Marketing, University of Gothenburg

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

Sharing stories

January 12, 2017


Sharing economy is a phenomenon that has increasingly gained attention during the 21st century. It has been claimed to be a functional and effective way of using goods and decreasing the environmental impact of consumption and creating long craved social interactions and community into people’s lives. But as we have noticed through our Informed Consumer studies, not everybody are as excited about it as the experts. It seems that some people are even slightly afraid of sharing.

We just wonder why.

Because, to be honest, owning is a burden. Goods need to be purchased, maintained and taken care of. And storing all the owned goods require a lot of space and cause stress. Not to mention the stress the recycling causes.

Of course, there are many rational and practical reasons for owning. Sharing is very impractical if the good is in daily use or if it is personally modified. And all goods are not shareable for hygienic reasons.

But why do we want to own objects even if they would be totally suitable for sharing? People might say that they do not trust the platforms or the regulatory uncertainty worries but really one of the main concerns seems to be:

What happens to the stories?

Objects have a huge storytelling power. They tell stories to others and to us. They might take you back to the foreign city where you lived in your early twenties during your gap year. They might remind you of the love and care your grandmother gave you when you were a child. They might be symbols of the life you once left behind.

During our visits into people’s homes we have heard a few of these stories and they never stop surprising and fascinating us. It is truly exciting to learn how people build relationships with material goods. Some objects are meaningful and special, right from the start. Like the salad spin that matches the one Kaisa had in her childhood home. Some objects people become attached to slowly with time. Like the football t-shirts that Jonas wore when he met his wife.

Material goods have not only functional duties but also symbolic meanings. No matter how trivial or dysfunctional the good might seem, it still can have a huge value to the owner. People seem to have a habit of creating personal relationships and attaching various meanings to objects which they come in contact with. Objects are tangible memories which can bring comfort and joy to the owner.

It might be that people are not afraid of sharing. They are afraid of forgetting.

The reasons behind how and why people really attach to material goods might be out of our control, but as designers we can create opportunities for it. Our challenge is to design strong services and brands that inspire storytelling – not despite, but because – they are shared.

Because in the end it is the people who create memories and meanings. Like Kalle who isn’t attached to his country house because the building is beautiful. He is attached to it because it is a place which he has shared with his family and created beautiful and meaningful memories with. The country house is just a way of conveying these memories.

Roosa Luukkanen, Junior Insight Specialist, Kuudes Helsinki