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There is a new cultural invasion from the northeast of the UK, Scandimania has taken its grip over the UK. The UK’s love of Scani brands has been building for decades and is now meeting a critical point of growth.

The Scandimania trend encompasses the Brit’s openness and eagerness for Scandinavian products, which includes fashion, home interiors, food, film/TV & Scandi lifestyle. Jeremy Baker, affiliate Professor at ESCP Europe Business School, said: “There is an inherent trust in Scandinavian brands. This Scandimania trend has for decades been quietly developing, and is now taking more a central role within the retail economy of the West End.”

Following the huge success of the Nordic noir-fiction genre, epitomised by The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and TV crime dramas including The Killing, Wallander, and The Bridge the stripped back, functional and quality of Scandinavian style started being reflected in UK high streets. London paper ‘The Evening Standard’ reported “Trend experts have attributed the surge in popularity to consumers’ increased demand for functional, stylish & sustainable products & trust in Scandinavian brands as well as the popularity of big brands such as H&M, IKEA and Cos which has helped to introduce shoppers to Scandinavian products” A surge in the ‘Scandimania’ trend has been reported widely in the national press, fashion & lifestyle magazines, & in marketing & trend reports consistently over the last two years and the momentum is still building.

It was Ikea who paved the way, establishing itself in the UK some 25 years ago. Now a household name, their products have now become a fixture in UK homes with one in five Brits sleeping on an IKEA mattress. The Evening Standard reported “Retailers said sales of Scandinavian homeware, food and clothing are now worth £300 million a year… Some retailers have seen an estimated 400 per cent increase in products stocked from Scandinavian and Baltic countries compared with the same time last year, while square footage dedicated to Nordic products has gone up by 20 per cent.” Additionally a number of Scandinavian retailers have successfully launched into the UK, with the highest concentration by far to be found in London, due to the particularly forward thinking /trend led consumers which make up the capital’s population. Swedish budget fashion brand Monki debuting in London last February, while the fellow H&M-owned Swedish brand Cheap Monday has opened, its first UK high street appearance.

This trend presents a big opportunity for Scandinavian brands and retailers to capitalise on the growing popularity of Scandi style and Nordic Cool. It is widely reported by the retail industry  that London is advised to be the place to launch and establish a new international brand. The UK is a London centric culture, the media, influencers and opinion formers are on the whole London based, the consequence of this is that unless a brand/ retailer establishes itself with the London market first and foremost it can really struggle to build a relationship with UK consumers. Additionally retailers wishes to establish themselves must consider that the UK market and local culture is unique, whilst there have been many many success stories of international retailers wining in the UK market, not all have been plain sailing. It pays to fully understand the market dynamics and sub-sector trends before developing an entry strategy. Retailers and brands can take learners from those brands that have gone before them. Ikea leant fast that outside of Sweden is was essential to always play on it’s Swedish credentials, adapting the brand look and feel for the market, in their case adapting the brand colours [to reflect those of the Swedish flag] and at the same time editing the product range to ensure it meets the lifestyle needs of the UK consumer. Of course whilst adopting national brand colours worked for Ikea it is not in itself the leaning, the most important thing to take away is to understand what it is about your brand that will appeal to the UK consumer and to which segment of the market; having understood this a brand/ retailer can then make decisions about potentially adapting the brand [i.e. to play to it’s heritage] and the editing the range to meet local lifestyle needs and trends, enabling brands to win the hearts and minds of the UK consumers.

– report written by Diamon UK Expert Michele Haddon

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