In Spain, people are queuing to get a child safety seat by Finnish company Klippan. Sales, purchases and logistics manager Hans Bäckström knows exactly why:
“We happen to have an excellent agent,” he tells laughingly. “We always give our agents the liberty to do what they think is best in their respective market, and in Spain, things have been going very well for us.”
However, it’s not just a strike of luck. Klippan, founded in 1959 to produce seat belts, has made child seats since 1967. Its decades of experience and Finnish-made products have convinced consumers not just in Spain, but in about two dozen other countries as well. About 80 per cent of the company’s revenue comes from international markets.
“After Spain, the biggest countries for us are Finland, France, Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden,” Bäckström lists. “Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria are looking promising, too.”
Speeding up for the sake of safety
Klippan’s seats are tested at the company’s very own test rig in Vantaa, Finland. The rig, where tests can reach speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour, is at the core of Klippan’s research and development.
Bäckström tells that the rig, built in 1989, is the only of its kind in Finland, so it’s popular with others, too. For example, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland uses it for its own research.
“Every year, about 300 tests are conducted at the rig,” Bäckström counts. “It’s of essential importance to us. If we had to travel to Sweden for each little tweak in our product development, that would significantly slow down the process and bring about plenty of extra costs.”
One of the reasons for Klippan’s popularity abroad is that it provides rear-facing safety seats. Research shows that this way of travelling is significantly safer in comparison to forward-facing seats.
“If the child is faced forward in the car and there’s a crash, the child’s neck will take most of the hit. In a rear-facing seat, the entire body is much better supported,” Bäckström explains. “In the Nordics, this has been the norm for ages already, but elsewhere in Europe it’s nowhere near as common yet.”
Beyond homeland borders
The record-low birth rates in Finland are one of the reasons Klippan is keen to continue tapping into international markets. On top of existing retailers and partners, there have been small endeavours in China, which would be huge market to tackle for the 15-strong Klippan team. Some efforts are taking place in Germany, and Bäckström also mentions Greece as an interesting destination.
The way Klippan heads out to the world is through agents just like the one doing a great job in Spain. Bäckström believes that local professionals have the best knowledge of the market and can adjust their strategies accordingly.
“We’re of course not without competitors,” he notes. “We are a very small company and there are plenty of other players in the market that are much bigger than us. However, our small size is also a strength, as we can be agile and move forward with our product development without unnecessary delays.”
Klippan’s products aren’t particularly cheap, due to their production taking place in Finland and extensive research and development. Bäckström understands that price is a factor when consumers consider their purchases, but he’s certain people are increasingly willing to pay for safety.
After all, there’s no price tag for a healthy child.