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Cabin Culture & The Alpine Lifestyle

Marketing, Research

Designing optimal personal spaces is not only reserved for our everyday homes; in some markets, recreational homes and cabins also have significant time and attention devoted to them. This is the case in the mountainous nations of Norway, Austria, and Switzerland, where the population values creating comfortable homes away from home in touch with nature.

The strong establishment of cabin interiors and the popularity of mountainous cabin destinations indicate that the market is developing, with niche magazines and influencers sharing content revolving around these spaces functioning as a source of inspiration for cabin owners. We have spoken to two experts within the field: Tonja Folkvard, Editor-in-Chief of Hytteliv, and Ellen Schwick, cabin interior influencer, shedding light on the strong market position of “cabin interior” and why brands can benefit from collaborating with profiles and publications that showcase these recreational homes.

Looking up north: Norway’s cabin dedication

For many Norwegians, going to one’s cabin is a highly valued way to unwind and connect with nature. Seizing the outdoors – whether it be skiing in the winter, or hiking in the summer – holds long traditions, and is inherently part of the culture. In fact, the element of history has a strong impact on Norwegian cabin culture. Cabins can remain in families for years and years: properties are passed down between generations and function as a shared recreational space for the extended family.

As a result, Norwegians have a strong relationship with their cabins, often stronger than that of their everyday homes. Many are hesitant towards renting their cabins out, and rather want to spend as much time as possible there themselves, including weekends and holidays like Easter, the latter being high seasons for cabin goers.

The most prominent cabin destinations in Norway are characterized by their closeness to outdoor sports facilities: among the most sought-after areas, you can find Trysil, Hemsedal, and Geilo. The common denominator between these destinations is their appeal and catering to a wide array of ages and interests, thus functioning as year-round nature and sports recreational zones for the whole family. 

With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that Norwegians are investing both time and effort into their cabins. Traditionally, Norwegian cabins are rustic and laid-back in style: comfort and functionality are key elements. However, in more recent years, the willingness to invest in these leisure spaces has increased: this applies to both the cabin’s interior as well as outdoor spaces like terraces.

  • Norway boasts 500,000 cabins, a vast amount compared to its modest population
  • 2,5 million Norwegians have access to a cabin property, equaling almost half of the entire country’s population
  • High ownership rate: 97,5% of all registered cabins are owned by Norwegians, indicating prominence and accessibility

 

The flourishing Alpine area and its impressive appeal

Surrounded by alpine peaks and wildflowers, once abandoned farming huts have been converted into chic and contemporary holiday cabins. The alpine region, including Switzerland and Austria, is, with 60-80 million tourists per year, one of the most visited regions on the European continent.

In fact, the tourism industry in the alps generates close to 50 billion in annual turnover and provides 10-12 % of all the jobs in this area. To draw the scope of the overall size of this business, the alpine region has, with its more than 600 ski resorts and 10,000 ski installations, an extremely dynamic infrastructure. 

Austrians as well as The Swiss, are very proud of their cabin culture. Their strong connection to the outdoors and skiing lifestyle is apparent and has resulted in an increase in people coming there for the whole experience. Their heritage is deeply integrated into their day-to-day lives as these two nations are situated directly within the alps and they have created their societal understanding around themselves interacting with their surroundings. This means the demand for typical alpine interior, both cozy cabin and chalet styles, remains high.

The most sought-after areas here are the regions of “Verbier”, “St. Moritz”, “Gstaad”, “Davos” and “Grindelwald”. Hence, one can say that the business thrives; this development generates great engagement amongst entrepreneurs and influencers that take pride in their surroundings by making it their topic of conversation.

  • Low homeownership rates are caused by tight property legislation: 50% of the population owns private properties 
  • Due to skyrocketing property prices in the Alps, cabins and chalets are mostly owned by luxury real-estate companies and hotels
Interview with Tonja Folkvard – Editor-in-Chief of Hytteliv 

Tonja Folkvard is the Editor-in-Chief of Hytteliv, Norway’s leading magazine about cabin interiors. With her extensive experience and expertise within the field, she has highlighted what trends and needs currently characterize the market of the Norwegian cabin interior, as well as how this is reflected in the magazine. (Picture credit: Caroline Roka)

What kind of content do you find that your reader base responds best to when it comes to the topic of alpine/cabin interior style?

Hytteliv’s readers are a diverse group, and there are variations between the different reader segments of this group when it comes to their preferences within cabin interior styles.

In general, articles that show inspirational photos in combination with interior decorating tips, cabin features, and shopping articles are well-liked amongst our readers.

Style-wise, a combination of the typical Norwegian cabin style, with wood panels as well as antique and retro objects, in combination with more modern furniture, like comfortable seating furniture, is popular. Color schemes are often inspired by the nature surrounding the cabin. For example, earth tones, greens in the mountains and greys, sand tones, blue and green by the sea.

Natural materials such as stone, wood, wool, and linen, and designs incorporating animals, flowers, and landscape, are popular. Many choose the view of the landscape outside the living room window as a focal point when furnishing. There is also an increased interest in both constructing and decorating cabins in a more environmentally friendly manner. Therefore, second-hand furniture and redesigned objects are often incorporated into the cabin interior.

To what extent does your publication conduct paid sponsorships with interior brands, and how well does it work within alpine/cabin-related content?

At Hytteliv, we publish commercial content in cooperation with commercial partners. This content is always clearly marked as an advertisement or sponsored content. We strive to ensure that all content published by us, commercial or not, should be of value to our readers. And as a measure to ensure this value, we use our unique reader data.

Following every issue of Hytteliv, content is tested in our reader panel, telling us that when commercial content is well made, it is highly valued by our readers.

Commercial content is normally produced by our content agency, Core Content, which has a broad understanding of the Hytteliv brand and its target group. We publish commercial content on a regular basis in our magazine, on social media, in our newsletter, and through Hytteliv.no and Klikk.no.

Interview with Ellen Schwick – Influencer and Cabin owner in Salzburg, Austria.

The “Hütte am Wald” cabin run by Ellen Schwick lies in the beautiful area of Salzburg, Austria. The owner, Ellen, has given us an exclusive insight into how she works as a content creator and nano-influencer. She also tells us about what interior pieces are especially worth mentioning and what she thinks sets alpine influencers apart from other interior content creators. 

What is the main difference between cabin interior / alpine influencers and other interior influencers? What makes them special?

In our opinion, alpine influencers are more focused on nature. The “coziness” inside the house is furthermore being emphasized because of the landscape it is embedded in. Our content is more outdoor-oriented with stronger adaptation to the changing seasons.

The activities of the guests are different very much throughout the seasons, therefore our communication needs to reflect that change. Values such as connection to nature, appreciation for natural materials, sustainability, and environmental awareness increasingly play a bigger role in how we create content.

What kind of product categories within interior content do you gravitate towards showcasing the most? What works best and receives the most engagement?

The choice of products to showcase is almost endless for us. We are representing products from all interior segments whether it be furniture for the dining, garden, living, and bathroom area or wellness, yoga, and kitchen -accessories but also sleeping equipment and toys for children are things we promote.

For us, the positioning of each product is important. A clear message and a unique selling proposition for our audience are details we think should be understandable right from the beginning of any campaign we engage in with brands. We know our target group well and therefore know what content ultimately drives conversion for us. Lastly, we always make sure to only work with brands that engage in our values and design aesthetic.

At the moment, the posts that drive the most engagement to highlight our cozy and cabin-like interior style. Pieces for the dining area and living room are definitely converting better than utensils for the bathroom and wellness area. Storytelling is also very much an integral part of our strategy and emphasizes the products we decide to promote (…)

A blanket is not nearly as interesting on its own but rather works as a promotion piece within a context.

 

Sara is the Norwegian Market Coordinator at VOCAST, responsible for Norwegian fashion and lifestyle research. When not at VOCAST, she studies Brand and Communications at Copenhagen Business School. Besides work and studies, she is a travel, music, and movie enthusiast.

 

 

 

Kevin is the DACH Market Coordinator at VOCAST. He grew up in Berlin, studying fashion journalism and communication, and has previously worked within fashion PR. Currently, he is studying toward a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and has a strong interest in sustainability, writing, and modern design practices.

 

 

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