Keeping up with trends
When building up a business relationship, showing you understand the field you are in and knowing which trends are important for your product and also in your target market.
Whereas every sector and product will have their own trends, some larger developments shape the market place as a whole. Knowledge of these developments can help you understand what they could mean for your business. Below, we discuss some longer-term developments influencing the Swedish and European markets.
Sustainability – more than a trend
Sustainability can be seen in different forms and is an ever increasing trend in most sectors and (European) markets. In fact, it has become part of a development which is here to stay and as such, sustainability has become more than a trend.
For producers looking to export to Europe, this means adapting to:
- an increased demand of organic and other sustainability certification
- an increased interest in eco-friendly materials
- the need for transparency, throughout the supply chain including your suppliers
- an interest in the story behind a product, such as producer communities
- a demand for reduced or more sustainable packaging, including alternatives to plastic.
Circular economy goals could change today’s trade
Circular economy is gaining ground through initiatives in Europe and around the world. In fact, the European Union, Sweden and several companies have set goals to become fully circular, which means
- Design out waste and pollution
- Keep products and materials in use
- Regenerate natural systems
Transitioning towards a circular economy means taking these aims into consideration at different levels, including legislation, product design and the development of new systems to keep products and materials in use.
This also affects exporters aiming for the European or international markets. Examples include:
- Legislation to minimise waste, including a European ban on single-use plastics
- Stricter legislation on harmful substances and chemicals
- Use of harmful substances and chemicals in production processes restricted by several global brands
- Preferences for sustainable materials, such as organic or natural
- Experiments with leasing, renting, sharing and other systems to keep products in use longer – not yet impacting the overall demand but with the aim to do so in the future.
The transitioning towards a circular economy is only getting started, and the coming years will show how it will affect global supply chains in different sectors.
Online and technology part of our daily lives and business
Social media, e-commerce, online trade events and business meetings scheduled online – especially since COVID-19, but the online trend was there before and will certainly continue. As business is increasingly moving online, and technology become more important at all stages in the supply chain, producers and exporters need to move online to and take part in this development.
Consumers shop online and look for information about products online. Social media offer both an image consumers aim for as well as information and inspiration when it comes to consumer choices.For companies looking to reach consumers in an export market, building up a presence on social media is a way to present the company, its products but also philosophy and image.
An increased pressure to invest in technology can also be seen throughout supply chains, where technological innovations increasingly become part of the production process. Leading market players always look for improvements, start-ups experiment with new innovations, and when these take off and start being applied by producers and suppliers, not keeping up can become a disadvantage.
Sweden is a frontrunner when it comes to both online presence and e-commerce, as well as technological innovations for instance through start-ups.
Convenience and flexibility
The busy consumer is always looking for convenient alternatives, and with online options allowing for flexible working spaces and hours, the overall demand for flexibility is also increasing. Think for instance of flexible use of space, or products that can be used for different purposes. Or ready-to-eat foods or packaging for products that can be consumed on the go. These trends translates into multi-purpose furniture or ready-to-eat packaged food, for instance.
Health and safety
Consumers of all age groups are increasingly aware of their health. This has lead to a demand for healthier food options, including both organic alternatives and so called superfoods, such as chia seeds and quinoa. In other segments there is an increased interest in healthy lifestyles, such as outdoors and sports, also leading to an increase in demand for products to facilitate this interest.
Consumer safety is a main concern in European legislation and an increased number of safety measures have been introduced in the past decades, such as protective gear seen both in work environments and among consumers. This trend has also lead to increasingly strict safety requirements for several products. And of course, safety and preventive measures have also seen an increase since the outbreak of the corona virus.
Aging population and small households
The population in Sweden and Europe is aging. The elderly are active and have both an interest and the means continue an active lifestyle including hobbies, travels and keeping up with consumer trends. As such, the aging population gives rise to new consumer segments, as they may no longer be working but retire, but instead of slowing down they keep looking for new adventures. Their interests and needs form important trends when looking for market opportunities. Think for instance of healthy lifestyles or ergonomic features that fit an older generation.
At the same time, young people increasingly choose to live alone or in smaller households. This influences consumer choices such as flexible solutions and smaller packages fit for smaller spaces. Also, the number of children in a family is generally low, the average below two children, with in most cases both parents combining parenting and an active work life. This has given rise to some of the trends described above: convenience, flexibility and an openness for technological solutions.
Get further support
Have you identified trends and are not sure of how they translate into concrete demands for your products, or are you looking for specific trends in your sector? At Open Trade Gate Sweden, we can assist you in collecting and sharing relevant market information. Share your products and company, and be as specific as you can in your question in order for us to provide a relevant answer.