Home Hi-Fi The Primare Strategy – Lagom and Hygge

The Primare Strategy – Lagom and Hygge

The Primare Strategy – Lagom and Hygge

It’s not very often that a HiFi manufacturer gets the chance to explain his marketing approach to consumers. On the one hand it’s a risky thing to do because marketing doesn’t have the best of images. But on the other hand it is an opportunity. Marketing might have positive sides for consumers a manufacturer will be happy to clarify. Alpha-Audio is contacting various suppliers in the HiFi industry about this. Some manufacturers do not respond to our request, but fortunately there are also manufacturers who do. One of these is Primare. We are speaking with marketing manager Terry Medalen about Primare’s marketing approach and what the consumer has to gain from it.


Terry Medalen
Terry Medalen

Primare of Sweden has been around since the early 1980s. The company primarily produces network players, CD players and (pre)amplifiers. In various reviews, including by Alpha-Audio, their stylized designed products are tested for technical quality and listening pleasure. These products then must be brought to market which requires an effort on the part of the manufacturer. How does Primare do that?

Their way of bringing these products to the attention of consumers is the creation of the brand ‘Primare’. It makes sure that consumers everywhere have the same clear image of Primare in their mind. We ask Medalen why Primare emphasizes recognizable branding in its marketing efforts and why it chooses THIS kind of branding. He tells us that they above all want to communicate the identity of the brand and its products. As a consumer you need to know the nature of the product you will be buying. To convey that branding to their own staff, distributors and retailers Primare uses strict guidelines for the wording in which Primare describes its products, for the images used, the font type in texts and the color filters placed over photos. Texts and images, for example, that we see in catalogs of HiFi trade shows where Primare is present. To our benefit, we find those guidelines on their website. This allows us to see very well how Primare does things and to ask Medalen informed questions.

‘Lagom’ and ‘Hygge’

For starters, they overtly characterize their products as Scandinavian. In the pictures, which are reminiscent of the famous Volvo commercials, as well as in the texts we encounter. In both there is quite an emphasis on ‘Lagom’ and ‘Hygge’.

Medalen explains that Primare’s design process, its products and even the daily routines of its staff have some fundamental characteristics that permeate the whole of Swedish society. Although entrenched in Swedish society these characteristics provide for universally felt human needs. These are ‘Lagom’ and ‘Hygge’.

‘Lagom’ is a Swedish word that stands for ‘just enough’, ‘not too much and not too little’. According to Medalen, we see this principle reflected in the clean stylized design of Primare products, for instance without rows of buttons on the front panel. But also in its design process in which no unnecessary steps are built in.

‘Hygge’ is a Danish word that stands for the simple good life in which coziness with family and friends plays a major role. The message is that Primare products play a central role in this. Primare is aiming for listening behaviors that fit the homely atmosphere.

While Primare wants to explain the technical specifications of its products, it does not emphasize them. Medalen tells us that it mainly wants to emphasize the feeling to which Primare contributes. That feeling, he says, is best expressed in ‘Hygge.’ Like ‘Lagom’, ‘Hygge’ is said to meet a universal human need in which Primare wants to provide a focal point.

Incidentally, the concept of ‘Fika‘ also plays a role in Primare’s branding. This is the Swedish term for drinking coffee, preferably accompanied by a cinnamon roll. In the production process, ‘Fika’ plays a productivity-enhancing role, and as part of ‘Hygge’ it is important for increasing togetherness and coziness.

Bringing the product to market

So how does Primare’s branding play a part in marketing its products? ‘Lagom’ must convince consumers that the design process is efficient, that no unnecessary whistles and bells are added and that the price is not too high. These are all aspects that will certainly appeal to the price-conscious consumer and can play a role in the purchase decision.

‘Hygge’ could play more of a part when listening to music at home. According to Medalen a list of a product’s technical specifications actually provides hardly any information about the listening experience the consumer may anticipate. Music is emotion and you have to characterize it for the consumer. Otherwise that consumer doesn’t know what he or she is actually buying.

What’s in it for us?

It takes an effort for Primare to think out such branding, design it (or have it designed) and implement it tightly throughout the marketing chain. Especially since their branding works with very comprehensive guidelines. One way or the other the costs involved must be borne by the consumer. Moreover, consumers are directly and purposely affected by advertising, in this case branding. So we may wonder what we as consumers actually have to gain from the marketing efforts of a manufacturer such as Primare.

Medalen points out that the purpose of Primare’s marketing is to inform consumers. To inform them about the nature of the products, how they are designed and about the listening experience that awaits us as consumers. Without marketing, we know nothing about Primare equipment.

In itself that is a valid argument to which we can add that marketing efforts have more value for consumers if the manufacturer is transparent about them and if there are no hidden issues. In that case we consumers can judge for ourselves what we think of a manufacturers marketing, whether we find it worthwhile.

Universal needs

It’s understandable that Primare points out the efficiency of its design process. And that it argues that it doesn’t add unnecessary functionalities just to increase the price. This can be confirmed if various parties, including Alpha-Audio, can conduct tests and reviews. As a manufacturer like Primare makes its equipment available for this purpose, consumers can judge for themselves whether the manufacturer delivers value for money. So, transparency is created at this point.

Then the question arises: how does a manufacturer make clear what kind of listening experience its equipment supports? That is the translation of technical specifications into the feeling that emerges while listening. For this reason, many manufacturers describe the timbre of their equipment in terms like warm/cold, spacious/analytical or clear/comprehensive. Primare, for example, typically calls the timbre of its equipment natural and neutral. But with that the matter is not closed. While timbre characterizes the listening experience, it does not yet characterize emotion. Some manufacturers therefore go one step further. They describe the feeling they want to contribute to with their equipment. Primare thus describes that feeling as ‘Hygge’. It wants people to experience ‘Hygge’ with Primare at the center. But, how exactly does that work? How should HiFi equipment actually sound to contribute to a certain feeling? Isn’t that different for every person? These are difficult questions to answer.

The problem now is that Primare doesn’t explain the connection it wants to establish between the sound of its equipment and listening emotion very well. It is not clear to us if and how a natural neutral sound will suit in particular a sense of ‘Hygge’. For consumers looking for just that, the target group Primare explicitly wants to serve, important information is missing. The informative function of their branding still is incomplete, so to speak. That is where Primare can take a step forward.

That fact that we are able to form a detailed image of Primare’s marketing approach, by the way, is due to its transparency. They have made their branding guidelines publicly available and Terry Medalen was willing to speak to us at length and openly.


A manufacturer can inform its customers about its products in many ways. This can be done through advertising, by exhibiting or demonstrating products, through product placement on television or in games, by investing in a distribution network, by placing demo products at retailers, by targeting specific audiences, through promotions and so on. Primare emphasizes recognizable branding. Their branding establishes the image that Primare equipment serves universally felt human needs also embedded in Swedish society. And, surely important, they are transparent about that. This allows us to see what we gain from Primare’s marketing approach. Primare thus has a more mature approach towards consumers than some other manufacturers who do not provide an insight into their marketing approach. The consequences of their marketing are also borne by us consumers without us being able to know what we gain from it!

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Bernard Verstegen
Als HiFi liefhebber geniet ik van muziek. Wat ik uiteindelijk hoor is de uitkomst van een samenspel van allerlei elementen zoals technologie, creativiteit, ondernemerszin, geld, journalistiek, commercie en noem maar op. Voor mij als econoom zijn markten de verbinding. En wij zijn de uiteindelijke consumenten. Ik wil weten hoe die verbanden zitten. As a HiFi enthusiast, I enjoy music. What I ultimately hear is the result of an interplay of various elements such as technology, creativity, entrepreneurship, money, journalism, commerce, and so on. For me, as an economist, markets are the connection. And we are the ultimate consumers. I want to understand how these connections work.