May 18, 2017

Designing growth for Finnish companies in Southeast Asia

Wan Wei Soh

is the chief communication officer of Design Finland 100.

It’s an exciting time for Finnish design. Initiatives such as the world’s first Nordic Business and Design Case Competition 2017 earlier this year, are leading the charge of Finnish innovations reaching uncharted territory.

Having been part of the team behind the competition, I gained some very important insight into how Finland can bring strategic growth to Finnish companies in Southeast Asia.

In hindsight, the secret sauce behind export success seems to be the aspirational angle adopted by one’s marketing campaign. “Aspirational elements” alludes to exclusivity – visible features or attributes in your products and services that only “high class” or “people who have made it” can buy.

Now, this positioning strategy might sound almost counterintuitive for Finnish marketers who come from a society that prides itself on equality. And perhaps this is precisely why Finnish companies can find huge growth potential in export markets like Southeast Asia, a region that is home to 667 million people.

Well-designed and high-quality products are so common in the Finnish way of life that we all tend to take them for granted. The reason why elements such as “top-quality” or “well designed” may be considered “aspirational” in Southeast Asian markets is simply because the typical product or service available to the masses in those markets are not necessarily “high quality” or “well designed”.

Occasionally one even has to pay a premium for products or services that are barely functional in those markets!

Now, if only if we as marketers can start to take note of what we take for granted in Finland that are considered “aspirational” in export markets. Would that not contribute to the greater success in Finnish export markets?

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