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When it comes to Norway, many of us might think of minimalism and simplicity. Where do these concepts come from and how do they influence local people’s mindset towards life?

As part of our ongoing Illume Guide featured blog posts, we interviewed our Norwegian Illume Guide Dorthe to help us understand more about Norwegian culture and emerging  beauty trends.


Hi Dorthe! Tell us about yourself –what do you do and what are you passionate about?

Hello! I’m 27, from Oslo and work in an advertising company. I love spending time with my dog. Outside of work, I do a lot of exercise, such as strength training. I love exploring nature with friends, so the outdoors is a big part of my life. I believe living a happy life is the most important thing, and in the future, I would like to start my own business.


Tell me about Norwegian culture

Generally, Norwegian people are not vocal about their own achievements, whether it’s wealth, intelligence or material goods, and are unimpressed by those who show off about such things. People are valued for their honesty, respect and humility without any need to judge others on their professional standing, which I believe can be quite different to American culture where people are encouraged to show their achievement.

We are sometimes criticised for not greeting or engaging in small talk with strangers or not being personal and warm in social contexts. ‘The Norwegian arm’ is a well-known term internationally for Norwegians’ tendency to stretch across the person sitting next to them at the table to reach what they want. But actually, Norwegians are polite, just in our own way. We don’t bother other people unnecessarily. We don’t ask for help unless we feel we really need to. To us, that’s being polite.

Norwegians loves vacations and there is a very healthy work-life balance here. Office workday usually lasts from 8-4 with an early finish on Fridays. Therefore, people spend a lot of time going outdoors. People are free to roam through all uncultivated land in Norway. This makes for incredible outdoor sports opportunities and ventures into landscapes seemingly untouched by modern life.


How would you describe Norwegian consumers?

In general, Norwegian consumers have relatively good disposable incomes, so people are willing to pay more for quality products. Value for money matters more than low prices.

Consumers value the minimalism concept in brands. One very popular fashion brand here is Holzweiler.  I believe this brand represents Norwegian style very well – it’s well designed, good quality but very simple and clean.


How would you describe people’s attitudes to beauty?

From my perspective, an ideal look would be healthy, natural and fit. People also like a tan to represent health. Women prefer to look natural and wear clean make up, which is related to our cultural value of being humble and not showing off. Actually, you might be judged if you overdo it. Less is more is our main ideal beauty value.

An emerging trend is demand for natural and organic cosmetics. Health and wellbeing are becoming more important and people also want to shop more sustainably. Our preference for these products is not only due to environmental concerns but also towards health and prevention. More people are suffering from allergies and eczema, which has raised awareness about the possible health consequences of the ingredients contained in cosmetic products. The quality of the brand is very important, we prefer products with few but effective natural ingredients.

However, when it comes to Gen Z, the situation can be quite different. They are more prone to ‘Kardashian’ type beauty and willing to try out strong or bold make up. There is a very popular beauty show called ‘Glow up.’ Social media and online influencers play a big role in Gen Z beauty inspiration. For example, Sophie Elise is one of the most popular beauty influencers nowadays. She’s famous for her own beauty brand which offers vegan and cruelty free solutions to makes people glow and self-tan, a growing beauty need.


What advice would you give to an international health brand who wants to be successful in Norway?

From my perspective, the most important thing is to provide good quality and healthy products. Norwegian people really value quality and are willing to pay more for healthy ingredients. Secondly, try to give away samples for people to try. It’s the most effective way to attract customers when the product is new. Norwegians take time to trust a brand and need reassurance. Lastly, it would be a great idea to collaborate with online influencers and promote through social media channels like Instagram, where most young people get their beauty inspiration from.