There has been a growing trend in discussing productization of Nordic organic and near food, forest and health tech, as well as nature and pure air for export and tourism. At the same time general opinion states that Finnish companies lack marketing know-how. The statement is unfortunately true. Marketing in Finland is product-oriented and mediocre. Export business requires luxury strategies.
The Finnish people are uneasy about the term luxury. Luxury has often rather negative meaning in our culture. The traditional concept of luxury refers to exclusive, sumptuous, and costly products and services, that are accessible for only few consumers. As a term, luxury has lost its meaning and power, as it is constantly used to describe anything ’a bit different’. Consumers, on the other hand, may perceive luxury as unnecessity, ostentation, waste of natural resources, pretentious branded bags, or expensive spa trips to Bali.
Luxury is exquisiteness with perfection of every detail.
What makes the concept of luxury challenging is that it transforms through time. Today’s luxury is not necessarily tomorrow’s luxury. Luxury is a cultural, societal and subjective experience. It is also heavily context-dependent. We may not consider having a glass of water at home luxurious, but at a desert, under the burning sun water is priceless.
Luxury means authenticity, quality, craftmanship, know-how, style, beauty, pure and best ingredients, corporate social responsibility, and ultimate customer experience. Sincerity and warmth in customer service. Exquisiteness with perfection of every detail. Objects and services, which create extreme value to the customer. Luxury has always a strong brand, because emotion and affect need to be present in order to result in a deep experience and a bond between a consumer and a brand.
A stellar service is about presence and understanding the customer from subtle cues.
Service is ever more essential part of a product, service or brand. With service it is possible to create a feeling of uniqueness to the customer. A stellar service is about presence and understanding the customer from subtle cues. Service takes the customer through various touchpoints, which are physical and mental contacts of the consuming event. The partial experiences constitute the whole experience, which may be good, bad, something in between, or an exceptional experience. As self-service and even impolite manners are conventional in Finland, we have trouble in perceiving the poor state of service and its role in productization and branding.
Can we mesmerize the global audience with mediocrity?
According to research, luxury is distant to consumers in democratic countries. The Finnish luxury sector has remained underdeveloped, because showing off wealth has not been accepted in our culture. Finland has tremendous untapped potential for global luxury markets. Finnish design is already well-known and our nature as well as our natural super foods are increasingly being noticed internationally – thanks to recent systematic hospitality and country marketing efforts. But can we mesmerize the global audience with mediocrity under the five star midnight sun’s scenery? With three star reindeer noisette and two star service?
The Nordic export business require special business and service design applying luxury strategy. There are plenty of opportunities, resources and skills in Finland. The productization and attention to detail have to reach every touchpoint of the customer journey – and we need to dare call it luxury.
Ainomaria Parikka and Riina Latvala
The writers are business and service design pros specialized in luxury sector