The Swedish business culture

In order to build a successful business relationship with a Swedish trading partner you should raise your business cultural awareness. By understanding the Swedish culture, you can communicate more effectively and hopefully build meaningful relationships. 

Swedes are proud of their Swedish traditions yet open to innovations. There is an overall willingness to discover new trends, flavours, styles, fashion and qualities. This open-mindedness is manifested in a constant appetite for new ingredients, new fabrics, or the adding of style elements from other cultures.

Blend between new and traditional

For you as an exporter, the key is to get the balance right between the new exotics added, and the cherished Swedish way.

One way of putting your products on the market is therefore to blend it with the traditional: a Swedish cracker or an interior design item can serve as an example. An exotic ingredient might be added to the cracker (for instance quinoa) or a handcrafted detail made by foreign technique might go into the interior design item.

Punctuality, gender equality and flat hierarchy

Work-life balance is highly valued: meetings are scheduled during office hours and punctuality is important. If you have an appointment with a Swedish buyer, be on time or call to say you are late. Moreover, remember that Sweden is a gender equal society. When doing business, you will encounter men and women alike, all with the same roles and commitments both at work and at home.

Hierarchy is flat and everyone is invited to share his or her opinion. This openness also translates into honesty. Swedes are transparent and expect the same from their business partner: if there is a problem or changes occur, be open about it and pro-actively share this information. Furthermore, Swedes are collaborative and open to discuss challenges and business approaches in general.

Puts value on well-informed business partners

Finally, Swedes appreciate a business partner who understands the current trends on the Swedish market and share the same values. Sustainability has become increasingly important, and especially long-term business relationships (business codes, certification or other means) aiming to improve sustainability performance. Other important trends are health awareness, e-commerce and online services. Read up on larger trends influencing the business landscape