Dutch consumers are among the happiest in the world. But to do well here, don’t fake it – or you won’t make it. Build lasting appeal through your understanding of local values and language. Our guide to Dutch consumer behaviour tells you how.

It’s official: the Dutch are the fifth happiest nation on earth. With a healthy economy, good public services and great life expectancy, they’re on to a good thing.

What’s their secret? Hard to say. But their unique blend of cultural traits might help – and they affect how you should approach Dutch marketing too. Here’s what you should know about Dutch consumer behaviour.


Coming from the Dutch for ‘overview’, this word implies order and clarity. Along with other low-context cultures, the Dutch appreciate it when you get to the point.

To appeal to Dutch consumers, help them get things done. Offer uncluttered web pages that are easy to navigate, with simple and precise copy. Humour and creativity are great, as long as the message is clear.

Over-the-top enthusiasm can appear insincere. A common Dutch saying is ‘act normal, that’s crazy enough’. In other words, authenticity matters. Make sure your brand and its values come across as clearly as the steps in your ordering process.


That’s Dutch for ‘timely’. Dutch culture is big on scheduling – even popping in unannounced to see friends is unusual. It ‘s why only 0.4% of people work long hours and full-time workers have more time to themselves than the OECD average.

Take this into account when planning your delivery service. 43% of consumers want to see the delivery date at the point of order. A choice of delivery location (at home, in-store, etc.) and the time window also rank highly. Find out more in our Dutch e-commerce article here.

If you offer a service or event, make sure you give customers lots of options and plenty of notice. Friends may decide to plan dinner in six weeks’ time. So only a very compelling offer would get consumers to change their plans at the last minute.


Another Dutch word with no direct translation. It means ‘talk-about-able’. It implies that everything can and should be talked about. In other words, the Dutch are comfortable with being direct.

Just over half of the Dutch population is non-religious. But some cultural traits of Dutch consumer behaviour link back to Calvinist ideas, including this preference for complete honesty. (Calvinism is a strand of Protestant Christianity. Funnily enough, theologians use the acronym TULIP when talking about its core tenets.)

Another Calvinist ideal is modesty, in the sense of not showing off wealth. If there are still taboos in the Netherlands, they’re probably around money. This is particularly relevant for luxury brands.

Luxury as a signal for enhanced social status may backfire. But the Dutch are loyal customers of branded goods. Concentrate on lifestyle and appeal to self-expression to win fans.


Meaning ‘equality’, this word is representative of Dutch consumer behaviour – they’re famous egalitarians. But like many European languages, Dutch has two registers: formal and informal. Traditionally, informal was for family and friends – formal belonged to the work sphere. Today, the trend towards informal is accelerating.

Choosing which register to use is an important decision for brands. There is no right or wrong answer, so it’s important to know your audience. Younger customers are likely to be more informal. If your customers value a certain professional distance, then formal is the way to go.

33% of Dutch consumers start their day with email – which means email marketing works well in the Netherlands. If you’re launching an email campaign, the form of address is linked to the register you choose. First names and formal don’t go well together.


Yes, that’s ‘green’. The Netherlands is the second-largest exporter of agricultural products in the world. The number one spot is held by the US – which is about 237 times bigger. An amazing achievement for a very small country.

That’s partially why sustainability is an important topic for the Dutch. But the majority don’t want to pay extra for sustainable products, lagging behind the global average. Don’t overlook it though – packaging and environmental concerns are still a priority for around a third of Dutch consumers.


With Brexit on the horizon, focus on the Netherlands is likely to increase. The Dutch have very high English proficiency and a history of international trade. Dutch consumers regularly buy from non-Dutch websites. But to capture their hearts, you’re better off speaking to them in their own language.

Want help adapting your brand for Dutch consumer behaviour? Get in touch – we’d love to help.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

ABOUT Jonny Simpson

I make sure English content is excellent. And I'll write, edit, proofread and translate for that to happen. I believe the most impactful content combines useful, culturally relevant information with compelling copy, and I've seen great results with Ermenegildo Zegna and Maserati.

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