We will never sell more than the customer has in mind to buy when they visit one of our stores. This is one of the basic ideas behind Systembolaget and a part of what we call responsible selling. But what does it really mean? Here are some examples of how it can be seen in practice:
- We do not tempt customers into our stores by displaying beverages.
- We never advertise beverages.
- We never run promotional deals such as “three for two”.
- We do not issue bonus points and have no customer club.
- Help is available from our staff when you are in one of our stores. If you ask what beverages you should choose you can get more information about and obtain a recommendation. However, we will not say “buy both”.
- Help is available if you ask about a wine for the main course at a dinner party. We will not suggest that you should serve a sparkling wine as an aperitif or a dessert wine with dessert. You will, however, be able to get help if you ask for it.
- Alcohol-free drinks are the only thing we can suggest without being asked.
Why is the age threshold 20 at Systembolaget?
The Swedish Parliament has decided that a person attains legal drinking age at 18. It is then possible to buy alcohol at a restaurant. However, at Systembolaget an age threshold of 20 applies. There are two main reasons for this:
- Availability of alcohol to minors would likely creep lower in age with a lower age threshold in our stores. Older partners, friends and siblings are common ways for teenagers to obtain alcohol.
- Under the Swedish Alcohol Act, staff in restaurants are responsible for not serving people who are too intoxicated. The same controls do exist for alcohol purchased at Systembolaget.
The Swedish Alcohol Act and Systembolaget
One of our most important tasks is to follow the so-called sales rules. They are three in number and are listed in the Alcohol Act:
- A person who has not reached 20 years of age cannot shop at Systembolaget
- A person who is visibly under the influence cannot shop at Systembolaget
- Systembolaget cannot sell to someone where a suspicion of selling to minors exists.
Since it is difficult to determine a person's age just by looking, we ask for identification if a customer is judged to be under the age of 25. An independent company conducts regular test purchases in our stores in order to check that we are asking for identification as we should.
Our compass in everyday life
When we make decisions, there are three questions that guide us to the right decision. Although this does not mean that things are easy, because reality is often rather complicated.
- How does it affect alcohol consumption? By far the most important question that we always start with.
- How does it affect our customers? Our customers care about our product range and our service, but also want us to take our responsibilities seriously. It is between the first and second questions that the most difficult trade-offs must be made. If a measure makes our customers more satisfied without increasing consumption, it is self-evident that it should be implemented. However, if a measure increases alcohol consumption, we must ask ourselves: Is it necessary for customers to be satisfied? And if it is not absolutely necessary, we let the situation remain as it is.
- Are we compelled to do it? Sometimes there are legislative acts or EU requirements that govern what action we must take.
Here are three examples of how things work in practice.
Refrigerated display cabinets
There are some customers who request refrigerated display cabinets, especially during the summer months. But we are fully aware that this would increase the consumption of alcohol. And it would also encourage immediate consumption, which goes against everything we stand for. The majority of customers are satisfied without refrigerated display cabinets in our stores and there is no law that requires us to have them. Therefore, we do not have refrigerated display cabinets.
Alcopops or alcoholic coolers are mainly aimed at young people and certainly increase their alcohol consumption. When they first appeared, our assessment was that they were not necessary to stock on our customers' behalf. On the contrary, many parents were upset when we started selling alcopops. But we had no choice. A Government Agency called the Alcoholic Beverages Product Range Board (Alkoholsortimentsnämnden) considered that we would be guilty of discrimination if we refused to stock alcopops.
Before we introduced self-service outlets, we knew that it would probably increase consumption. But we decided that the then new type of store was necessary in order for our customers to be satisfied in the long run. We can see that it is one of the measures that has had the most positive impact on customer satisfaction.