Few countries in world could boast that: they are so good recycling that they assume other nations’ waste; they are home to perhaps the worlds most famous pop band; and the strength of their passport is among the worlds best. Arguably, the aforementioned claims make this nation sound rather incredible, and your impression wouldn’t be wrong. Europe’s fifth largest country by area, and home to the largest number of McDonalds per capita, Sweden is a fascinating nation, with an outstanding attitude towards sustainability in regard to both the economy and the environment.
Sweden has given a lot to the world and no one can dispute that. Academy award winning actress Greta Garbo, Disc Jockey Avicci, and Zlatan Ibrahimović are just some of the famous names to descend from the Scandinavian nation, inspiring the world with their incredible ability in their respective fields. However, it isn’t just cuisine, a responsible attitude towards the future, and raw talent that Sweden has offered us, the country is also home to a number of big brands, some of which dominate the world markets.
In this article, we take a look at the big brands which, despite their infancy in Sweden, have successfully achieved world domination.
Listening to music, “enhances the mind, physical coordination, and expression. It can raise someone’s mood, get them excited, or make them calm and relaxed.” With this in mind, it should be pretty self-explanatory why the entirety of our lives in the twenty-first century exist under an umbrella speaker of classical, pop, trance, or any other of the plethora of genres which exist, resonating through our ears. From walking the dog, to indulging in a bowl of pasta carbonara, there exists a backing track to everything we do. In the past, that tune in the air was almost always provided by the local radio station or a self-produced mixtape — in 2019, however, Spotify can claim a lot of the bragging rights to providing the sounds to our day to day.
Rewinding to 2006 like we’re Craig David, music piracy was perhaps the hottest topic in popular culture, with file sharing sites such as LimeWire and The Pirate Bay existing as the main source of music access for much of the world. Of course, Apple’s iTunes store offered users the opportunity to purchase songs and albums in their digital format, however, it still remained fairly costly — especially when one could download their music for free…
In Stockholm, two developers, Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, recognised room for potential — they knew they had to find a middle ground, a site that was better LimeWire, but, also compensated the artists and provided them with royalties for the music they created. What came was Spotify, a £10 monthly subscription service. Despite reservations and hitches along the way, Spotify, thirteen years later, is worth more than £23bn, available in 61 countries, and lays claim to more than 217 million monthly active users worldwide. The site, which has been popularised by its app service, cleverly offers a free-version, which grants users access to the same 30-something million songs that the paid users have, but, with adverts, meaning the artists are receiving fair payment for the work in which they produce.
Spotify have now sparked deals with various Smart TV manufacturers and Sony PlayStation, making their product readily across numerous platforms. So, next time you’re toe-tapping to your favourite tune, think about the Swedes, who gave the world this wonderful invention.
If you were tasked with thinking of something quintessentially Swedish, then IKEA would often be your first port of call. Deep in the Swedish forest, in the early 1920s, Ingvar Kamprad, at the ripe old age of five, began his quest to become one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Ingvar started off by selling matches to his close neighbours, before realising, if he were to travel into the city, he could employ economies of scale, buying larger quantities of matches at a lower price. His inventory of stock soon expanded, selling everything from Christmas decorations to flower seeds, catering for a host of requirements.
Realising his potential, the young Swede then launched a catalogue, before building a showroom which allowed potential customers access to view what was on offer — it wasn’t until the ‘60s, however, that IKEA came to life, in the store format that we know so well today. Within the next decade the brand had moved beyond its indigenous roots in Sweden, stepping into the likes of France, Italy, UK, and the US. Now, in 2019, IKEA operates in 38 different countries and territories, in 313 stores while, Kamprad, upon his death in 2018, had an estimated worth of $58.7 billion, making him the world’s eight-richest person.
Alongside their delectable meatballs, IKEA are considered, worldwide, as the leaders in affordable, self-assembly furniture.
Holding connotations throughout the world of quality and reliability, Volvo, in many senses, is considered the marque of car manufacturing. Assar Gabrielsson and Gustaf Larsson embarked on a journey to establish a vehicle that would successfully withstand everything the Swedish climate would throw at it. Interestingly, at the start, the business, which is Latin for ‘I roll’, performed considerably better in their sale of trucks, becoming an immediate success. Unfortunately, the manufactures major inroads into the automotive industry suffered a considerable blow following the start of World War Two, and, as Sweden were a neutral force, they didn’t reap the same rewards, as perhaps BMW or Citroen did. In 1944 Volvo really came into its own with the launch of the PV444, before their contribution to the automotive industry was significantly felt worldwide. Not only did the Swedish brand launch the three-point safety belts, an incredible innovation in regard to in-car safety, they shared their development with all other manufactures, helping reduce a vast number of road deaths.
Now, in 2019, Volvo’s passion for safety is still present in everything they do. Their vision for 2020 is “that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car”, and reports suggest that the new Volvo XC60 and XC90 models are some of the safest cars available on the market.
Sweden’s contribution to the world is nothing short of amazing and no doubt there are further developments in the making!