I was part of a project recently where one of the new products we were evaluating was centered around the idea of “Hygge Snacks”. It didn’t do well. At the time of the project, I (and many of the consumer participants) hadn’t heard of the Danish concept of hygge, which seems to be best described as the coziness, contentment and well-being one gains through the enjoyment of the simple things in life. Apparently, I have experienced hygge without even knowing it… reading a book next to a fire on a snowy day, enjoying an evening of board games with friends, and savoring a cup of hot tea in my favorite mug. Hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered to be a defining feature of the cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA, according to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen.

Winters can be very long in Denmark. For some, the winter is a unique, magical time of year. For others, it’s a gloomy, cold, never ending darkness you just have to wait out. Hygge with its “pursuit of everyday happiness” encourages people to use those winter months to strive for relaxation and comfort, both independently and in the company of others.

So, here is the disconnect that happened during that project: Hygge doesn’t require buying a specific product in order to experience it (though many companies have tried to leverage the concept). There are no “hygge foods” to eat or other “hygge products” to buy. You simply have to slow down, be in the moment and appreciate the people and environment that surround you. That’s hygge. Some things in life simply can’t be bought.

How do you feel about new products that promise to create hygge, or other similar feelings?