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Influencers and Internet Celebrities in Scandinavian Retail

The project

This project is an individual grant hosted at the Media, Management, and Transformation Centre at Jönköping University, and is funded by Handelsrådets (Sweden), July 2017–June 2019.

Influencers have been known to extensively impact consumption patterns, and retail businesses are increasingly roping in Influencers in order to engage with their young consumers. As prolific social media users who are opinion-shapers and key leaders, Influencers are internet personalities who first began as everyday users before garnering followers, fame, and fortune over time. Using the backdrop of their lifestyles as a canvas for advertorials, Influencers function as ambassadors to different brands and sell advertising space on their digital estates. This project is an exploratory study to learn about how social media Influencers in the Swedish and Scandinavia context interact with followers and impact consumer behaviour. It employs ethnographic fieldwork comprising participant observation, personal interviews, and web archaeology.

Between July 2017 and June 2019, Crystal will be looking at how social media Influencers in Sweden impact the fashion retail industry. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork comprising participant observation, personal interviews, and web archeology, Crystal will focus on innovative uses of digital media, Influencers’ branding strategies, and consumer behaviour in the Swedish fashion industry. For this project, Crystal would like to speak to Influencers, Influencer talent firms, digital media agencies, social media marketing companies, people in the creative and advertising industry, as well as researchers who work in similar areas. She is also hoping to speak to people in the fashion industry who adopt digital marketing techniques. Read some of her case studies on Influencers here.

Participants committed to this study (excluding those anonymized/pseudonymized)

Achoo (HQ Copenhagen)
Buzzador (HQ Stockholm)
Cube (HQ Stockholm)
Cure Media (HQ Stockholm)
Gorilla Media (HQ Copenhagen)
Innx (HQ Copenhagen)
Loppi (HQ Stockholm)
Myrorna (HQ Stockholm)
Nöjesguiden (HQ Stockholm)
Relatable (HQ Stockholm)
Splay (HQ Helsinki)
TheSwedishLad/Martin Arvebro (Stockholm)
United Screens (HQ Stockholm)

Fieldwork dates 
(now concluded)

Aug 2017 @ Jönköping, Stockholm
Jan 2018 @ Göteborg, Jönköping, Stockholm
Feb 2018 @ Borås, Göteborg, Jönköping, Stockholm
Mar 2018 @ Borås, Göteborg, Helsinki, Jönköping
Aug 2018 @ Copenhagen
Sep 2018 @ Borås, Copenhagen, Lund, Stockholm
Oct 2018 @ Copenhagen
Feb 2019 @ Jönköping
Mar 2019 @ Bergen, Oslo, Stockholm


[1] Abidin, Crystal, Kjeld Hansen, Mathilde Hogsnes, Gemma Newlands, Mette Lykke Nielsen, Louise Yung Nielsen, Tanja Sihvonen. 2020. “A Review of Formal and Informal Regulations in the Nordic Influencer Industry.” Nordic Journal of Media Studies 2(1): 71-83. DOI: 10.2478/njms-2020-0007 <Open Access>

This article provides a systematic review of laws, guidelines, and best practices related to the Nordic influencer industry as of the year 2020. We highlight some nuanced differences or shortfalls across Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and give some policy recommendations to national governments and industry in order to maintain a professional Nordic standard. The article identifies a degree of social, cultural, and economic coherence in the Nordic context that allows for the Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish influencer industries to be viewed as a collaborative entity. It then reviews the status of income and tax procedures, and the regulation of commercial disclosures for influencers in the Nordic region. It is hoped that this research contributes to strengthening the integrity and rigour of the Nordic influencer industry to serve as a model for other regional networks of influencers.

[2; in preparation] A study of the commodification and export of Nordic cultural aesthetics (i.e. Logom/Fika for Sweden, Hygge for Denmark, Sisu for Finland, Fuglen for Norway, etc) via Influencers as dissemination vehicles. Focus on how Nordic Influencers on YouTube and Instagram package and market ideas of the Nordic cultural aesthetic, and how similar practices are adopted by international Influencers in the long chain. Analysis of how such forms of behaviour correspond to concepts of Nordic occidentalism, intra-exoticism, exceptionalism, etc. –with collaborators from Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden

[3; in preparation] A survey of the types and models of Influencer agencies in the Nordic. Focus on their business models and gatekeeping practices, to understand where each type is situated in the chain of production/circulation in the industry, how agency specialists select and groom influencers, how they observe and pick up on social media trends. Analysis of some of the consequences of such gatekeeping practices, including how this has led to a stereotypical visual image of ‘the Nordic Influencer’, and whether or not efforts are made to distinguish national markets in the intra-Nordic. –with collaborators from Denmark, Finland, and Norway

Further information

Handelsrådets grant press release here.
Academic publications here.
Press mentions here.
See some of my fieldwork diaries via Snapchat here.

The researcher

Dr Crystal Abidin in a sociocultural anthropologist who focuses on vernacular internet cultures, particularly young people’s relationships with internet celebrity, self-curation, and vulnerability. She is most known for her work on Influencers, a multimedia form of vocational internet celebrity, and is presently working on projects in East Asia, the Asia Pacific, and Scandinavia. Crystal is Postdoctoral Fellow with the Media Management and Transformation Centre (MMTC) at Jönköping University, supported by Handelsrådet (Swedish Retail and Wholesale Development Council), and Adjunct Research Fellow with the Centre for Culture and Technology (CCAT) at Curtin University.

Crystal was trained in the departments of Anthropology & Sociology, and Media & Communications at the University of Western Australia (UWA) and graduated in 2016. Prior to coming to Jönköping International Business School (JIBS) in August 2017, Crystal was Postdoctoral Fellow in Sociology at the National University of Singapore (Jul16–Jun17). A full list of affiliations is available here. In 2018 she was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list for Media, Marketing & Advertising, and in 2016 she was named on the 30 Top Thinkers Under 30 list by Pacific Standard Magazine. A full list of accolades is available here. Her books include Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online (2018, Emerald Publishing) and Microcelebrity Around The Globe: Approaches to Cultures of Internet Fame (2019, Emerald Publishing). She is also finishing up two full-length research books on the amateur fashion industry entitled Vernacular commerce, creation, and culture in Singapore blogshops (contracted, NIAS), and on the Influencer industry in Singapore and East Asia entitled Please Subscribe! Influencers, Social Media, and the Commodification of Everyday Life (contracted, MIT Press).


If you would like to get in touch, please reach Crystal at, crystalabidin[at]gmail[dot]com, or @wishcrys. Alternatively, please feel free to pass on this information to interested parties.

This page was last updated on 19 June 2020.

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