Insights on Marketing & Technology

Nudging can backfire

In Sweden they have an alcohol monopoly, where only the store called Systembolaget is allowed to sell alcohol. Stated at Systembolagets webpage, it exists for one reason: “To minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive.” Linda from The Swedish Nudging Network will in this article give an example on how Systembolageret may have used nudging in a different way than may was desired.

  • By: Linda Lindstöm
  • Published: 18-06-2015

During Christmas last year, Systembolageret had a campaign with a kind of confusing message on their plastic bag:

“ The fact that we are the only one that sells beer, wine and liquor is a bit uncomfortable for you. But this is what you contribute to this year:

About 2000 saved lives

About 20 000 less violence crime

About 11 million less sick days”

Now… From a behavioural perspective, how does this make you feel? Perhaps I’m the only one, but this text actually puts me in a mood that make me feel – Yay, I just bought something for a good cause! Great, this justifies my alcohol shopping… Well, let’s be frank, I don’t think that’s the intention with the message.

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Linde Lindström

Linda is one of the initiators of the Swedish Nudging Network and it's blog. The aim with the network is to gather people who are interested in the field of applied behaviour economics to share information, spur debates and spark collaborations among individuals, research disciplines, businesses as well as policy-makers.

Her academic background is in environmental economics and she is currently a master student at Stockholm Resilience Centre where her ongoing research is about nudging consumers towards more sustainable choices in Swedish grocery stores.

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