Competition in Housing: The Ultimate Swedish House Factory Commercial

We’ve been busy here at Bygghouse arranging some travel to Sweden for several clients, and in doing this we’ve had an excuse to check over the never ending flow of interesting marketing and advertising work being done by the companies in Sweden that sell houses using the advanced building ideas that we think should have a home in North America.  Since we are focused on building technology, we tend to ignore the commercial context in which firms operate, when there is much of interest to say about a housing industry that sells houses more like – products.  In Sweden the term “kataloghus” is used to define the business which has grown up selling houses out of pattern books and catalogs.

The fact that firms in Sweden operate this way means that they are also in direct competition for customers, who can pick and choose among similar offers.

In Sweden there are dozens (perhaps close to one hundred) firms who are pretty much in direct competition for each other’s customers.  Most of the larger house firms have 20-30 sales offices and will build anywhere they can make a sale.  We have nothing like this kind of competitive marketplace – and definitely not this kind of competition in the marketplace for “average houses”.


This much competition has created a virtuous cycle where doing well leads to more sales, and where new ideas and styles are eagerly sought out – in hopes that these “new” things will drive sales.  In North America, builders generally control land in order to sell houses – but in Sweden, the customers go looking for houses to put on their land – and people who have houses to sell them have to do what all consumer products firms have to do:  convince the customer to choose them instead of the other guy.

So in general, what you see in Sweden, among firms who use advanced building technology to produce housing – is also a pretty high level of marketing savvy.

To get a feel for what this market looks like, Bygghouse presents the ultimate Swedish house advertising film:

This is of course in Swedish, so you’ll have to just work with the emotions, but briefly:

The commercial opens with a heavily pregnant woman driving her volvo with two kids in the back, in a snowy landscape. She is thinking of a house for her growing family. Then we cut to the image of a Swedish carpenter, driving in his Mercedes utility van. He’s headed to the workshop, where houses start out life on tables laid out flat as carefully detailed wall sections that are then shipped vertically on trucks and set with cranes.
The family is thinking about their house, their dreams, the carpenter is thinking how much he loves the work he does and the smell of fresh cut pine.
He works methodically and carefully, in a small shop, to build a house, piece by piece, and we see him at his computer, since the house is being built as parts, each wall section has a parts drawing and cut list. He and the pregnant woman are cosmically in contact though the fulfillment of dreams – a hawk calls over the frozen forest.
The house arrives and is set on the foundation by 4 guys using the delivery truck’s small crane, you can see the house parts all standing on the truck. Nothing is just dumped on the ground, the truck is part of the building process!
The family plays in the snow and shops at IKEA (where else?!) while they are putting the finishing touches on the house. The carpenter installs some prefinished trim.
He screws his company’s name plate to the door, and hands her the keys, he almost cries, but not quite.
The family stand next to their huge 3 pane view out looking over the lake and the kids jump on the sofa while the woman says: A house to live in, a house for us … then cut to the house in the dark as the northern lights dance overhead.
So now you’ve seen it, the perfect Swedish House commercial!