6th November 2014
There is a Swedish word that has been on the tip of our collective tongue here at Seymourpowell for quite some time now. It is a word that describes a philosophy of life that pervades Swedish culture; a word which, we believe, could be a powerful design term if manifested effectively in consumers lifestyles. That word is Lagom – the Swedes idea of achieving a balance between what we want and what we need – life in moderation.
At Seymourpowell we regularly monitor emerging consumer groups. In recent months we have noted a rise of the Lagom – a considerate consumer looking for a simpler way of life with just enough. As stuffocation reaches a saturation point, people are looking for ways to rationalise. Pairing back becomes the new priority, they are looking for ways to simplify and reduce on all levels.
Lagom has no parallel English translation, and roughly means ‘just right’. It stems from the idea ‘there is virtue in moderation’. Dating back to the Viking era, where communal eating and drinking was part of life, it has a strong community overtone, suggesting that one doesn’t take too much, as greed can result in the hindrance of another.
The concept isn’t about perfection, nor is it about frugality or denying oneself. Importantly, from a Seymourpowell perspective, this phrase seems to have struck a cord with many consumers today.
We recently discovered how this movement is manifesting itself into consumers’ lives through in-depth personal care research. It became apparent that women in general tend to over purchase cosmetics, trying new things or needing multiple options. Men, on the other hand, generally buy what they need – just enough for them.
The philosophy is also woven into the growing fashion trend – Normcore – which sees consumers becoming tired of over-crafted, over-designed brands and products. Brands such as Levis are desired by these consumers as they stick to what they know and do it well without fuss.
In recent years, Scandinavian countries have adopted this trend in to their design and lifestyles. Consumers are appreciating balance, simplicity and moderation. Lagom can be described as stripping off the fat but keeping the taste – which perfectly summarises the Scandinavian ethos.
We will continue to track this movement and how it continues to manifest in consumers lifestyles. Lagom could be a powerful design term – any brand adopting this ideal would be investing in longevity and sustainability.