Surprising Scandinavia.

Paula Thomas, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes


A fascinating global study by two highly esteemed business universities (Cornell & INSEAD) measures “innovation” by country every year – and the results are truly staggering. While widely respected economies like the UK, USA and China appear in the top 20 “Most Innovative Countries in the World”, appearing in 5th, 3rd and 14th places respectively, this really should be expected given that these countries are drawing from a combined population of almost 1.8 billion people.

Scandinavia, by contrast, consists of three countries with a fraction of that population, just 21 million people between them. Yet these three countries achieved 2nd, 7th and 19th place in the same league table. This article explores some of the reasons for this perhaps surprising success and shines a spotlight on some of the incredible technology companies that have been created there, as well as highlighting some of our own favourite success stories of key clients of our own who are truly innovating with their convenience loyalty programmes.

Another amazing fact is that the city of Stockholm in Sweden, a city of less than one million people, has created more unicorns – (i.e. privately-owned companies valued at more than $1bn) per person than any other city on the planet, so it’s certainly time to celebrate how innovative and exciting this region is.

Map of Scandinavia (in red – Norway, Denmark and Sweden) plus other Nordic Countries (in orange – Iceland, Faroe Islands and Finland) 

Famous Scandinavian Brands

While Scandinavia is well known as the home of some iconic global brands and personalities including Abba, Volvo, Ikea and even Carlsberg beer, it is less well known the birthplace of some of the world’s greatest technology and gaming companies. Some Scandinavian technology success stories that have achieved global scale include Skype, Spotify and King Digital Entertainment, the company that created “Candy Crush” – one of the most commercially successful digital games ever built utilising the freemium model.

This article discusses some of the reasons for Sweden’s dramatic success and concludes that the country (and by association the whole region) is “the perfect petri dish to test new tech ideas”, citing the impressive example of Facebook, who, when they created the ‘Like’ button, chose Sweden as the place to try it out first.

The factors credited with creating such a culture of innovation in Scandinavia include the support of one of the world’s most generous welfare programmes (which reduces risk for entrepreneurs), a culture of transparency and trust, as well as “a strong scientific tradition… supplemented by exceptional – and free – technical education.” What an amazing recipe for success.

Famous Swedish Technology / Gaming Brands


Some of Our Favourite Loyalty Projects

As a company, we are 100% focused on driving loyalty in convenience retail, and we believe our home in Scandinavia has given us the mindset and skills to create a platform that is truly innovative, used by the world’s leading convenience brands to create programmes that we can all be incredibly proud of.

Our industry is one of the last sectors of retail to embrace loyalty programmes – not because we haven’t wanted to, but simply because convenience customers need speed above all else. Traditional loyalty programmes required customers to fill in lengthy forms, produce their membership card (paper or plastic) at the time of payment and perhaps even browse merchandise catalogues for their rewards.

Digital loyalty platforms have truly revolutionised every industry – and we believe that ours offers unique capabilities for retailers to truly wow their customers. In an industry that is highly collaborative, we consistently study the best loyalty programmes in the world and ensure our roadmap of features is developed to compete with the very best in order to deliver above and beyond what customers expect. And while not every programme we write about on our website is built on our platform, we are excited to work with a whole portfolio of innovative clients both in Scandinavia and beyond. Here are some of their stories.

Payment Linked Loyalty

Reitan Group operates almost 2,500 convenience stores across seven countries and uses Liquid Barcodes as its loyalty marketing platform. The group wanted to completely eliminate delays at the point of sale – usually caused either by having to produce a loyalty card or even opening a member app. Instead, together we developed an exciting loyalty programme which simply tracks purchases from the payment card used, with no other steps required. The result is an exceptionally simple – and rewarding – experience for customers.

A Higher Purpose 

The best loyalty programmes in the world combine both rational and emotional benefits in their consumer value proposition. A programme that we think has done this to a truly exceptional level is an award-winning Norwegian company called HOLD – a great concept that connects emotionally with customers in a way that very few brands can ever hope to. HOLD is an app originally targeted at University students, that measures when customers actually disconnect from their digital devices, and then rewards them with tangible, everyday rewards that are managed on our loyalty marketing platform. This programme has developed a solution to a problem that most people are only just recognising.

Award-Winning Innovation in Denmark 

7-Eleven in Denmark is another award-winning client, with the team recently winning the prestigious “NACS International Convenience Retailer of the Year Award.” Their entry focused on their successful transformation from a declining kiosk business to a thriving business frequented by 77% of the population and revolutionising Danish consumer’s access to healthy food options. Their management team has chosen Liquid Barcodes to power their loyalty app, their digital coupons, and their stamp cards, as well as creating engaging customer campaigns using our exciting range of games. This is a great loyalty case study, as our platform is powering the customer programme for the world’s best convenience retailer.

A selection of our clients in our home countries in Scandinavia.

In closing, it’s also important to understand that Scandinavia’s successes are not just in business – they are some of the world’s happiest people too! Norway, Denmark and Sweden achieved 2nd, 3rd and 9th places in the recent World Happiness Rankings, way ahead of the US and UK, who achieved 18th and 19th places respectively.

Scandinavian people and companies should take great pride in creating a culture of early adopters and digital natives who are leading the world, achieving the delicate balance of both commercial success and personal fulfilment.

While we have clients worldwide from Asia to the UK and the United States, we are certainly delighted to have had this opportunity to highlight where our company comes from and some of our local and regional success stories as we continue to expand globally.

About Us:

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty and digital marketing technology company specialised for the convenience store and foodservice industries. Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform allow retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process we call the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels.

How we do it:

We have developed the most advanced loyalty and digital marketing technology platform specifically for convenience store and foodservice retailers globally.

Retailers use our self-service dashboard to create and manage loyalty driven marketing campaigns that increase purchases with their existing customers, as well as effectively target and acquire new customers through partners or paid media channels.

One core component of live loyalty is gamification. We have gamified branding, loyalty and promotions. We believe this approach is essential in order to get customers’ attention and ultimately truly engage them with repeatable actions thereby winning their loyalty.

Check out some of our exciting/proven results here:

About Me:

Paula Thomas

Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant.

With over twenty-five years marketing experience, I specialise in loyalty marketing consulting, managing consumer loyalty propositions, strategy and operations. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, my clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. I am also a judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards. 



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