How to Target the Nordic Consumer

How to Target the Nordic Consumer

15th January 2013

If you are targeting the Nordic market through search engines or social, there is some basics you should know about us and how we think, act and search.

I am a Norwegian myself, working mainly in the Nordic market. But I also work with people from the rest of the world, and I am always surprised how “foreigners” look at us. For instance, I was once asked by an american how I managed to drive a car over there, since all Swedes drive on the left side of the road. There`s two errors in that assumption. I am Norwegian, and Norway is not the capital of Sweden. And we drive on the right side of the road. But this is not the only time I have felt misunderstood. Surfing the web, I feel misunderstood every day. It is time for some inside information about the Nordic consumer.

We do not speak or write the same language

First of all, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Finnish are not the same language. Danish and Norwegian can, to a certain degree, look alike, but it is not the same. When Swedes, Danes and Norwegians have phone meetings, we speak English to avoid misunderstandings. This is how different the languages actually are. Finnish is even further away from the other Nordic languages.

There is nothing more annoying than websites targeting the whole Nordics as one, mixing the languages. So please, don’t. Use local language copywriters, and let a local SEO specialist do the keyword research.

We use short search queries and take our time

In all the Nordics, we search using few words in search queries. In fact, 83% of us use between 1-3 keywords, and only 4% of us use more than four keywords when searching from a PC*.

number of keywords in a search nordics

We search for “hotell oslo” when we want a hotel in Oslo, and “kredittkort” (credit card) when we want a credit card. Does this mean you can get away with very specific content based around few keywords on your website? No, we are not that simple.

Since we use short queries, we get broad results, and therefore we use many searches and many days or weeks to decide and research before we make a purchase. For example, 61% of us use 5 or more searches, and 41% use two weeks or more before purchasing a holiday travel in the Nordics. 57% use 5 or more searches before purchasing consumer electronics. The numbers are very similar in other verticals as well*.

In other words, we search broad, and we take our time. A mix of keyword specific content for the most common searches and good, informative, long-tail content to match all the other searches done in the very long research phase would fit the Nordic consumer well.

We don’t know PPC from SEO

46% of Nordic consumers can’t tell the difference between sponsored and organic results, but still 75% of us say that they find the organic search result most useful. Only 7% thinks the sponsored results are most useful*.

organic search most useful

Make sure both organic search results (meta description and title-tag) and ads are informative, to the point and in the correct, local language, and you have come a long way. And do both PPC and SEO. You can win a lot on doing this, since almost half of us don`t know the difference anyway.

In Norway, you have to be a business owner to own a top level domain

What does this mean? Well, most bloggers and other, private, websites have to use .com, which makes up a whole lot of websites without a .no domain. Google is not very language-sharp when it comes to the Nordic languages, and therefore often mix results from the different languages when they are all on .com. Searching from, I often see Swedish and Danish .com websites in my search results, which I find very annoying.

In other words, if you own a business and want to get Nordic customers, get a TLD for each country instead of using .com on all of them, and you will more certainly hit the right audience on the right keywords, without getting your search results mixed with other languages or be visible in the wrong country.

We care about our friends` opinions (but don’t want them in our search results)

44% in the Nordics say they are more likely to buy products that their friends have recommended, but still, we don`t want them in our search results. 49% disagree or totally disagree that recommendations from friends and family is helpful in the search results*.

To me, this means you should go social parallel to the search campaigns. And remember, in social ads, language is just as important as it is in search. No Swedish or Danish or maybe even a mix in ads, please.

Think about the Norwegian Inherited Stiffness Syndrome (NISSE)

One last thing you should know about the Nordic consumer, that can for sure impact how you target the Nordic audience: The Norwegian Inherited Stiffness Syndrome. The cold, long and dark winters have had it`s impact on us. It is in our genes to be a little stiff and sceptical. Think about this when choosing the tone of ads and the words and language you choose for your website.

This old non-alcoholic beer commercial explains a lot (yes, non-alcoholic beer, it is not allowed to advertise for alcohol in Norway):


* Nordic Survey 2012 by iProspect NO, SE, DK and FI

Featured Image borrowed from


Written By
Agnete Tøien Pedersen is Head of SEO in iProspect Norway and has years of experience within SEM, SEO, web publishing and journalism. She is also chairman of the Board of Ethical SEM in Norway, BraSøk. On a daily basis she is working with customers of all sizes, in Norway, the...
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.