Localisation and the Nordic market. Two of our specialities, here at Comunica! We are passionate both about striking the right tone in all that we produce, and in guiding our customers through the sometimes tricky yet always rewarding world of the Nordics.

Read on below to learn more both about the importance of localisation when it comes to the Nordic market – as well as some of the peculiarities to consider.

Why target the Nordic market?

The Nordic region refers to a group of northern European countries that includes the Scandinavian nations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden, in addition to the non-Scandinavian countries of Finland, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Besides their colder climes and northerly latitudes, these countries also have prosperous economies, robust welfare states and highly digital societies in common.

Taken together, the Nordic Region constitutes the eleventh largest economy in the world. With a combined population of 27 million and an economy worth USD 1.6 trillion, the region is comparable in size and scale to the entirety of Australia. It constitutes the fifth largest economy in Europe and boasts a population which is predominantly urban, educated and flush with disposable income.

In addition, Nordic consumers have also garnered a reputation for being early adopters. They are well used to accepting and embracing digitisation and new technologies, and they are often curious about new brands, products, experiences and innovative ways of tackling all problems.

These traits make the region a very interesting and lucrative target for global and European brands looking to enter into an exciting new market characterised by great purchasing power and strong public services willing to invest in infrastructure and technology. And precisely because it is a region of early adopters, it also holds the potential to help catapult your product or service yet even farther afield.

The art of localisation

The basic virtues of localisation have been widely discussed on this blog before. From the fact that Internet users broadly prefer to access content in their own language to the benefits of connecting with people on a more genuine and human level through recourse to their everyday vocabulary and values.

But what do linguists need to keep in mind when localising specifically for the Nordic market? Below are a couple of cultural bridges any good localisation will need to cross.

Janteloven

Culturally, it can be tempting to think of the Nordics as being very similar in temperament and values to the USA or the UK. But once you scratch the surface, you will find there are a number of crucial differences, and these govern even how brands and businesses communicate.

One key tenet is Janteloven or the Law of Jante in English. This is an unspoken code of conduct which basically discourages boasting, bragging or personal exceptionalism. Its widespread adoption is often assumed to be at the root of egalitarianism in the Nordic and Scandinavian societies.

This means that advertising copy, perhaps written for the American market, and based around an assumed desire to stand out from the crowd, show the world how exceptional you are or leave everyone else in your dust, may need to be toned down or refocused for the Nordic market. This is something that can be done quite naturally as part of a professional localisation process.

Sustainability and the green transition

The Nordic region is often recognised for its advancements within sustainability and climate change adaptation. In fact, the region aims to be the most sustainable and integrated region in the world by 2030 – with carbon neutrality and green growth both firmly on the Nordic agenda.

This means that consumers and buyers within the public administration are perhaps even more keenly interested in the green credentials and virtues of the products and services they consider than may be the case in other markets.

As a result of this focus, an entire marketing language has grown up around this issue, as companies in and out of the region try to make clear their commitment to certain green targets and obligations. Often, this is something that features prominently in marketing and communication campaigns – and with a good localisation team at your back, you can be sure to position your business correctly within this landscape.

Svengelska, dangelsk, etc.

If you have heard a Nordic language being spoken on the TV or the radio, you might have noticed that English loan words feature prominently both in daily speech and in marketing language. However, you may also have noticed that this English sometimes has its own flavour – words take on a slightly new meaning or become used in different ways.

Nordic language users themselves are aware of this trend and often refer to it with jokey portmanteaus such as svengelska or dangelsk, often in online discussion forums as they try to untangle whether a certain expression is truly English or a Nordic Frankenstein.

Some common so-called pseudo-anglicisms in Swedish include backslick instead of slickback and the popular term afterwork for a happy hour or a social outing which takes place, as the term suggests, after finishing up for the working day.

A good localisation process will not only help you speak the local languages like a pro – but it will even help you use English like a local, too.

Your one-stop-shop for localisation

As you can see, there are many things that need to be considered when localising for the Nordic market, but the potential spoils are well worth the effort.

As translation and localisation experts with a special focus on the Nordic market, we are well positioned to help you and your company reach these exciting markets in a local and approachable way.

To learn or chat more about how we might be able to help you, please feel free to get in touch for a commitment-free meeting about your business and the possible ways we could help you take things forward up north.