WHAT IS SWEDISHNESS?

By Oleg Trofimov

In the age of globalization, transnational corporations, and global brands production is spread all over the world and so the question of origin; Where Something Comes From, is becoming increasingly important to consumers and to companies who want to connect with them. But how can companies and brands leverage their origin and heritage in a credible way in health and wellness marketing?

To better understand this, in collaboration with HMT, I will be investigating how “Swedishness” is commodified and quantified by brands seeking to leverage the qualities it represents. Further I will try to understand not only what Swedishness means, but what it means to consumers, how it is perceived and why it becomes important for Swedish food & wellness companies. The aim is to develop guidelines for companies seeking to leverage origin and heritage in health and wellness marketing.

“Swedishness” only means as much as it represents.

The very image of a country is no longer obvious. What is really meant when we simply say: “Swedish”? Even offhand, it invokes a variety of imageries, symbols, and mythologies which shift in an international context. However, consumers still tend to attach importance to a country of origin when making decisions to buy and shaping attitudes to products.

Therefore it’s important to ask: how is Swedishness is perceived by international consumers? To understand this I will catalog the mythologies, narratives, and symbols which create the symbolic capital of Swedishness and ask why certain aspects become meaningful for different consumers and significant for different product categories. In order to understand how a perception of “Swedishness” influences consumer attitudes towards brands, products, and ingredients.

How should a Swedish brand act?

Understanding of the above questions is necessary to comprehend what aspects of Swedishness should be emphasized when building an international food & wellness Swedish brand, by making sense of what aspects of Swedishness add value to a brand.

The output of this research will be a guide for companies seeking to leverage Swedishness for food & health brands in different contexts. Using this guide, it will be possible to understand which mythologies, symbols, narratives are relevant and positive. And most importantly, how they can be combined to create effective positioning and meaningful messages to strengthen an existing Swedish brand, or to build a new one. Also, it will be more clear what should not be used regarding the branding of Swedish origin.

Therefore, by using the Swedish toolbox, adapting to a brand and product category, it will be possible to understand: what Swedishness could be for a brand?

Would you like to know more about this research project and would you for example want your brand to be part of the research? Connect with Amanda@thehmt.com

Oleg Trofimov from Moscow, Russia, is a cultural analyst and qualitative researcher experienced in designing and conducting various research projects. Previously, he worked in marketing communications and has experience in consumer marketing research and brand planning. At the moment, he is studying for a Master’s degree in Applied Cultural Analysis at Lund University. During the spring 2018 Oleg already worked with HMT on “The Church of Healthy Eating” research project, and now he is collaborating again for the new project “What is Swedishness?”.