Sauna from Finland has accepted a challenge. It wants to bring the true Finnish sauna experience to the world and help companies commercialise it.
Finns have enjoyed bathing in the sauna for a thousand years. Our saunas are known around the world, but despite this, they have not been turned into successful business. Saunas do not really promote the Finnish brand. The Sauna from Finland association has been operating for six years and wishes to change the situation. Executive Manager Carita Harju has taken the challenge head on since the founding of the association. She has been diligently leading the strategic work to promote the business formed around the sauna theme. Her tools include conducting research that supports corporate activities. At the moment, research is ongoing for assessing the combined turnover of the entire sauna industry. The goal is to also further improve the image of the Finnish sauna.
A quality certificate for saunas
”The brand of the Finnish sauna is stuffy. It needs to be renewed,” Harju snaps. ”Think about the visual image of the sauna that’s been given so far. The traditional images of old smoke saunas, birch branches and ladles are atmospheric, sure, but these alone won’t promote the commercialisation of our saunas. We shouldn’t forget our sauna traditions, but we must modernise them and their representations,” she says.
The work for improving the sauna brand has begun with the introduction of specific tools, such as the Authentic Finnish Sauna Experience quality certificate. It is awarded to sauna services companies whose activities fulfil the criteria of an authentic Finnish sauna experience laid out in Sauna from Finland’s quality manual.
“An authentic Finnish sauna is a holistic and multisensory experience. It’s comprised of recognisable and high-quality elements and the core values of bathing in a sauna,” Harju says. These core values are authenticity, multi-sensuality, presence, relaxation, cleanliness and wellbeing. The quality certificate can be used in different sauna environments, for example in travel destinations, public saunas for pre-booked customers, spas, swimming pools and hotels. The quality certificate lets the company’s customers know that their sauna services are top-of-the-line.
Joining the wellbeing business
Harju specifically believes in the possibilities of the sauna as a provider of wellbeing, and wants the sauna to be a part of the wellbeing market. “Saunas provide the possibility for holistic relaxation and release from stress. These are promises that speak to today’s customers.” However, one must be careful when talking about health benefits. Most claims need to be backed up with research knowledge. Sauna from Finland is currently collecting all the health research on saunas into one archive. For example, research has shown that when done correctly, bathing in a sauna can improve the quality of sleep. The most recent medical research that has been conducted in Finland even notes that going to a sauna 4-7 times a week can decrease cardiovascular mortality. “Modern technology is constantly creating new possibilities for both new research and deepening existing knowledge. In addition, the market for monitoring one’s own health is growing. The connection between monitoring personal health and saunas could create lots of opportunities,” Harju notes.
Collaboration is seen as added value
Originally, the association only included a few founding companies. Now it has over a hundred members. Harju believes that by the end of this year, there will be 200 member companies. The association wants to attract strong multidisciplinary Finnish companies who feel that the sauna theme could be a part of their marketing. “It’s great to see that companies are now more willing to collaborate. Before, marketing saunas was really held back by the unwillingness of the companies in this sector to work together. Now there’s a new generation that understands the added value that collaborations bring.”
Author: Minna Juti