Marketing into Scandinavia (503 words)
By Lisa Yorgey
With their small populations, the countries of Scandinavia—Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland—have been largely overlooked by U.S. direct marketing companies. European companies that have been more active in this region have achieved excellent results. Former Yves Rocher CEO for Europe Dan Bryzokoupil says that "of the 88 countries Yves Rocher markets in, Sweden had the highest per capita sales figures."
U.S. marketers are taking a second look at the area now that the Internet has become a key business channel. Scandinavia is the most wired region in the world, with higher levels of Internet usage and access than the United States.
High literacy levels and a high per capita GDP combined with long winters and a large percentage of the population living outside of urban areas make mail order attractive. All Scandinavian countries have an active catalog industry. Even Iceland, with a population of 250,000, has an excellent catalog produced by the retail store Rammagerdin. This company has been in business for nearly 50 years!
Catalogers interested in the Scandinavian region should realize that in addition to mailing lists, magazine inserts produce solid response rates. And these are more accessible, as many magazines do not rent their lists but will accept inserts.
In Sweden, data access is guaranteed by the Swedish Constitution. The data available is inexpensive by global standards and the quality is so high that the major compiled databases offer a $13 refund for every undeliverable if a mailing receives more than a 5-percent undeliverable rate. To date, no one has ever needed a refund. One of these compiled databases is SPAR, the governmental tax database that contains all 8,906,569 residents of Sweden. It is available for rent with selects such as gender, age, income, wealth, property ownership, parents, children and post code.
Sweden's catalog and mail-order industry is well established. There are about 50 major catalogs in Sweden and more than 800 mail order companies. Lists of mail order buyers' addresses are oftentimes coded with Social Security numbers for periodic updating against the SPAR register. Traditional list brokering and trading is common in Sweden, and approximately 300 mail order companies broker their addresses to third parties.
Other Scandinavian countries worth considering:
Finland has a well-established catalog industry. "The Directory of Overseas Catalogs" lists 26 catalogs in Finland featuring a wide variety of product categories.
Norway's catalog industry is smaller than Finland's and Sweden's, but active. Mailbus Marketing, a cataloger that sells apparel, sporting goods and general merchandise, mails to approximately 2 million households in Norway.
Denmark also has a well-established catalog industry. Several catalogs are mailed to databases of 1 million to 2 million households.
Swedish Alternate Media
Type of Insert Subscribers Participating
Consumer magazines 2,600,000 87
Business magazines 750,000 13
Consumer package inserts 10,000,000 800
Co-ops 10,000,000 10
Douglas Sacks is senior vice president of Infocore Inc., an international list management company and direct marketing consultancy. He can be reached at (860) 563-6360; fax: (860) 563-6265 or by e-mail: email@example.com.