Norway is a subscription leader in the making
SUBSCRIPTION POV #13
By Morten Suhr Hansen
The past few weeks, I’ve been working from our Norwegian office in Oslo. We started the Norwegian office of Subscrybe back in 2018 and since then, the office has grown and now consists of four strong consultants who work closely with the Danish consultants to help larger Scandinavian businesses to succeed in the subscription movement.
During the corona crisis, our collaboration was limited in a virtual space. Therefore, the reopening of both Denmark and Norway has been a perfect opportunity for me to place myself in Norway for a longer period of time and work closely with my Norwegian colleagues on exciting projects. At the same time, it has given me the opportunity to come closer to Norway, as a subscription nation.
This has been an exciting experience, as there is no doubt that the subscription-based business model is extremely strong in Norway. Norwegians love their subscriptions.
We got a taste of this when we finished our survey of the Scandinavian subscription market, earlier this year. Our survey proved that Norwegian households on average have 18 subscriptions (Danish households have 17), and the growth of subscriptions is happening faster in Norway than in Denmark. 64% of Norwegians report that they have more subscriptions now than 5 years ago – and 31% believe that they will have even more subscriptions in the future. This means that the subscription movement in Norway is in rapid growth.
Especially in the digital area, Norwegians are leading. Digital news subscriptions and loads of streaming services are thriving, all over Norway.
This means that Norway has some of the most successful companies within subscription that I’d like to highlight. Earlier this year, everyone in the Scandinavian investment sphere was talking about NutraQ, the company behind VitaePro and Oslo Skin Lab, when they were sold to Orkla for a staggering 3,1 billion NOK.
Also when it comes to media companies, we see some successes that are more prevalent than in other Scandinavian countries. Take the Norwegian company Schibsted, as an example. Schibsted has published well-known newspapers like Aftenposten and Verdens Gang for many years, but within the last ten years, the number of digital subscribers has skyrocketed. VG+ is one of the biggest success stories. VG+ is the digital subscription universe that we know from many other news outlets. The subscription counter at VG+ has now reached 240.000 paying subscribers. And this is in a country with fewer citizens than Denmark!
VG+ is not a lonely star at Schibsted. Aftenposten in Norway and Aftonbladet in Sweden, also owned by Schibsted, is experiencing growing numbers on subscriptions. Actually, Schibsted has just published that they reached 1.000.000 digital subscribers on all of their media. At Schibsted, the subscription-based business model is at the center, when it comes to future innovation.
In spite of these successes, there are still areas where the development is lacking behind Denmark and other markets. Subscriptions on physical products haven’t reached their potential in Norway.
In Denmark, we have plenty of examples: Aarstiderne, Goodiebox, Barberklingen, Synoptik, Champagnekassen, Matas, Swapfiets… Us Danes are accustomed to subscribing to all sorts of products, be it the cheap, everyday products or slow-moving consumer goods. In Norway, it’s not the same, but the interest from consumers is growing. I believe that the Norwegian consumers are ahead of the companies, in this case. The demand for attractive subscription solutions is larger than the supply. Here, I do feel that parts of the Norwegian business community can be a bit conservative.
But perhaps, this is changing. Recently, we arranged a morning seminar in Oslo about retail shopping and subscription with one of our Danish customers, Matas, who is already deep into their subscription journey. A big part of the Norwegian retail market was represented, so the awareness is there. I think this will result in concrete subscription products within a short period of time.
At the same time, the Norwegian market is ready for Danish subscription companies to join in. Danish Goodiebox has already launched a successful Norwegian operation and I believe that we will see more Danish subscription companies selling physical products, move into the Norwegian market.
Hopefully, we will see Norwegian consumers being able to subscribe to meal boxes, personal care, groceries, glasses and cars, just like we do in Denmark. Then, Norway will consolidate its position as a true subscription leader.