Sweden Post Targets American DM for Nordic Business

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GOTEHNBURG, Sweden - Sweden Post will soon send mailers to major US catalog companies as part of a campaign to make Sweden the pre-eminent Nordic center for direct marketing.

The Swedish government-run post office has targeted about 3,000 US consumer and business-to-business catalogers for a mail drop this month and will follow that with a larger effort in the fall.

"We want to be a hub for the Nordic countries and Eastern Europe," said Anders Asverg, director for inbound international business at Sweden Post. "We are a small market and that's why we need to provide direct marketers with a one-stop solution."

It will offer market research, Swedish translation services, identification of list brokers, addresses of target groups, call center and order handling, third-party logistics, marketing, financial services and Internet retailing.

These services flank its traditional mail delivery and pick-up services not only in Sweden but also via Sweden Post-owned facilities in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia.

Sweden Post has already signed one client for its delivery service (Asverg would not disclose the company's name.) Test marketing of the cataloger's products starts in May. Sweden has a lot of things going for it, said a senior executive with Unimedia DM, which claims to be the only US direct marketer in the country.

Chief among its plusses are a comprehensive database compiled from tax returns, a large middle class and a population where 50 percent are university graduates and 80 percent speak English.

"With the availability of such data, you've got a total market," said Robert Yarbray, international business development manager at Unimedia, which is based in Helsingborg, a Swedish city that borders Denmark.

Yarbray laments the attitude of U.S. businesses toward Sweden and the Nordic region.

Many U.S. marketers mean only Britain, France or Germany when they refer to Europe, he said, neglecting an untapped region of 25 million people.

"Americans should realize that competition in the mail-order business here is weak, and that they can take a larger share of the market," Yarbray said.

"Also, Swedes tend to be pro-American in terms of purchases. Volvo's proposed merger with [French automaker] Renault upset them. But Volvo's takeover by Ford didn't raise an alarm."
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