This latest post comes from Dan Phan, Omni Talk’s foreign correspondent extraordinaire.
My latest trip brought me nearly 60° latitude north to Oslo, Norway. Although a capital city, Oslo is small with only about 1 million people in the metro area and that was reflected in their retail scene. It was difficult to find amazing retail experiences; however, there were a couple bright spots during this trip. What I did notice is that many of the brands really leaned into Scandinavian heritage, especially in the beauty category.
Homegrown brands from Norway, Sweden, and Finland were easy to find, and they proudly showcased the heritage rooted in nature using adjectives like “mighty sea, forceful wind, arctic spring water, nordic climate.”
Nordic countries are well-known for home design, but lesser known in other areas of retail, so this is a smart move to story tell a product.
Taking things that are unique to this region, like annual light cycles and linking it to (pseudo) science – for example, the Lumene brand claims its berries, seeds, and plants that it uses give it incredible antioxidant potency because of 8 months of darkness followed by continuous light.
While these brands hyped up their benefits due to the region, I don’t believe this would translate well in the US market (or anywhere outside of Scandinavia). Saying “Nordic women are fresh-faced, radiant and healthy-looking” isn’t really inclusive of diverse skin types.
If you happen to be in Oslo, stop by Paleet a small shopping mall that went through renovations in 2014. Inside of Paleet, the copper design elements first grab your attention and then the cozy food experiences – not like any standard mall food court, but rather little coffee cafes, were full of people conversing. The emphasis at Paleet is on craftsmanship, authenticity and distinctive quality. Many of the stores are unique and many of the brands you find at Paleet are Norwegian. One of my favorite store at Paleet was YME, a two-story curated experience of fashion, interior, design and art.