Business ideas for 2017: Hygge

The Danish wellbeing concept is becoming the buzzword among Brits, opening doors for start-ups to jump on the hype - Scandi style...

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Hygge (pronounced ‘hoo-guh’) is a Danish concept which roughly translates to mean ‘cosiness’ but is more generally interpreted to mean ‘moments to relax and enjoy life’.

The Danish Ministry of Culture defines hygge as ‘fun, cosy and comfort combined with pleasure’, while Visit Denmark, the official travel and tourism advisor for the country, describes hygge as “creating a nice, warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people around you.”

Picture yourself sitting with friends by an open fire covered in blankets, with a mug of steaming hot chocolate and candles burning – this is the embodiment of hygge.

So why is hygge a start-up business opportunity? Well, while us Brits have long been fans of Scandinavian style, art and culture, hygge is the new lifestyle and well-being phrase on everyone’s lips.

In fact, Google UK searches for the term ‘hygge interior design’ jumped 163% in the last quarter of 2016, while the term ‘hygge’ has surged 285% in recent Pinterest searches, and was dubbed ‘one of the top words of 2016’ by Collins Dictionary.

While big brands such as Tesco and The White Company have begun to capitalise on the lifestyle buzzword; promoting products associated with ‘hyggelig’ and using ‘hygge’ in their marketing rhetoric, there is a window of opportunity here for start-ups and creative entrepreneurs to develop ‘hygge’-related products and experiences.

Time to find your Nordic ‘zen’ and start a hygge-inspired business? Read on…

Starting a hygge-associated business: Why it’s a good business idea

In the last year alone, we’ve seen more than a dozen books published on hygge (including The Book of Hygge and The Art of HyggeHow to Hygge) and, in October, press publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Marie Claire cited hygge as the trend that “everyone’s obsessed with”.

While we believe there’s scope to start a hygge-related business, don’t just take our word for it. Industry experts predict that hygge will be a huge growth sector in 2017 – particularly in the winter months.

In Mintel’s trends for 2017 report, the market intelligence group commented: “The importance of hygge in Denmark is probably connected with the Danish weather; the cold, dark and wet months call for togetherness inside. As winter descends, the opportunities for brands and retailers to offer hygge experiences for consumers grows.”

Hygge’s popularity isn’t restricted to winter though and aspiring business owners can set up a hygge-inspired business to generate success all year-round. As Visit Denmark advises: “One good thing about hygge is that you can apply it anywhere, and Danes allocate it generously to everything commonplace”.

In recent months we’ve seen the launch of hygge candles and the hygge kit, created by 58 Lifestyle, which is centred around wellbeing and balance and contains, bath oil, room mist, and, of course, more candles. But the business opportunities for hygge don’t just lie in home accessories…

Hygge business opportunities

The potential business opportunities for hygge are plenty, especially if you focus on creating products and services which follow the hygge philosophy and encourage consumers to invest in their emotional health.

Mintel has highlighted business opportunities for hygge in beauty, aromatherapy and home fragrance:

“[You can] focus product launches […] around the ritual of beauty products, encouraging users to take time out to enjoy the products and their results. Aromatherapy benefits can also be considered for these products, while the importance of room atmosphere also holds possibilities for the household air care sector.”

The subscription box market is another opening: “Combining candles and products such as comforting creams, with food and drink items, subscription boxes can deliver regular hygge moments.” You will need to ensure that your offering can compete with new businesses in the hygge subscription box market though, such as LivingHygge and HyggeBox; monthly boxes containing herbal teas, candles, notebooks, blankets, socks and a language card to help you learn Danish.

Hand-made clothing, crafts, and gourmet beverages all encompass the hygge philosophy, while interior design and home furnishings – such as creating a Scandinavian-themed furniture range – are other prospects for budding entrepreneurs looking to capitalise on hygge (see comments below from Yell on this).

Hygge traditionally encompasses food and drink and is more concerned with being kind to yourself, than restricting yourself from certain things, so food and beverage is another hot sector for hyggethusiasts. Think comforting and soothing foods rather than healthy and raw; a hygge street food stall specialising in Nordic-inspired pies and stews, for instance, could be a winning business idea.

Alongside hygge street food, hygge cafés, stores and restaurants are another potential area to target. London’s Scandi Kitchen – a café and grocery selling staple Nordic ingredients – launched over 10 years ago and has become one of the UK’s leading Scandinavian food outlets. Yet, that’s not to say that an aspiring restaurateur or café owner couldn’t take a bite out of the market, especially outside of the capital.

To test out your hygge food idea, you may want to validate your business first by launching a pop-up. Take inspiration from Finch’s which has this month launched ‘The House of Hyggeness’ pop-up at its pub. The pop-up will be offering cake decorating, colouring books, whisky sampling, guided meditation, and a letter writing station.

Forgetting food and drink, there are opportunities for aspiring property developers to embrace hygge. Landscaping company Ambius believes there is a gap in the market for co-working spaces that draw inspiration from Scandinavia:

“Hygge is yet to be empowered in the office. The Scandinavian style is way of ahead of the curve when it comes to making the office a comfortable place to work and we need to look to them for inspiration to start instilling hygge into our offices.”

Insider opinion

Mark Clisby, marketing director of Yell Business, has commented on the emergence of hygge as a business opportunity:

“The hygge craze was everywhere in autumn 2016 and, while some trends like this can tail off into anonymity very quickly, hygge is showing no signs of slowing down in the UK. Seemingly having resonated extremely well with the British public.”

Clisby also believes there are prospects for budding interior designers:

“Based on a feeling of warmth and cosiness, this business opportunity especially applies to interior designers. The term ‘hygge interior design’ was searched by consumers 200% more in 2016 than in 2015 showing that […] 2017 will be the year consumers really bring [hygge] into their homes. A trend interior designers definitely shouldn’t ignore!”

Published Jan 2017

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