When it comes to marketing, Finland is a developing country for several reasons. Former Soviet Union was nearly our sole post-war trade partner, which resulted in zero development of quality, sales and marketing know-how. Our political elite, together with the Soviet trade mission and those with the Finnish honorary title of vuorineuvos, used to spend a week in one of our backwoods motels and get boozed up – and the sales for the next five years’ period was considered to be taken care of. Factories were started up, the goods flowed East, and Russian oil came our way. Quality thinking was a far cry from the one today, products of any standard were exported. In bilateral trade it was only the quantity that counted. Finnish quality is a myth. The goods produced represented basic bulk with a low extent of value added. The amount of moccasins shipped to Moscow rose at the same pace with the oil price.

Left wing politics of the 60s and 70s took over the universities, inspiring young, conscious people to study social policy, Marxist philosophy and other social doctrines. Marketing studies were unheard of, and Western thinking was rejected not just by the academic world but also the only electronic media, public service broadcasting company YLE. During these decades, a massive, overly bureaucratic and regulatory public administration structure was created. Combined with a very active trade union movement, all development came to a halt. In the meantime, our neighboring country Sweden was efficiently exporting various goods to several Western countries. Just to mention an example, in the 1980s, H&M was roughly the same size as the Finnish fashion chain Seppälä. See how it turned out.

Marketing activities executed by companies themselves were not ready in the toolbox at any stage. In case of a possible slower period, the politicians were immediately invoked to devalue. When the Soviet Union finally fell, our manufacturing industry was taken by surprise. Eastern trade just ended, cold turkey. The Finnish quality, or rather the lack of it, didn’t sell to the West. Entire industry branches had to be permanently discontinued.

Not until now, 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the importance of marketing has finally become an issue and a tool utilized. In addition to selling more products and services, marketing targets to sell them at a better price. At its best, marketing acts as a driver for R&D, aiming at customer satisfaction, and more value added, through good quality production. Adding value to jack up the prices of the exported goods is the only way up for Finland, and can’t be reached just by cooking pulp.

Two thirds of the Finnish companies are not using professional market communication services, and never have. Finland, now one of the slowest developing countries in Europe, is stuck. Prime Minister Sipilä is expected to be like our former head of state Kekkonen, a hero with a fix-it-all solution. Competitiveness is important, but not the only answer. Products and services must be superior in order to be able reach better prices. This results in a right price level of work, too. The Finnish engineering education has created certainly hundreds of potential ingenious innovations. But only professional marketing will open their uniqueness to the world. Marketing is not a cost, it’s an integral part of the product supply chain.

The Subcontracting Trade Fair 2015 introduce a new service this autumn, the Messumarkkinointi.fi website which offers sales and marketing packages to the exhibitors. There are services for acquiring new sales contacts, deepening customer relationships, product and service launching, making your company more known and developing international trade.

Mikko Reinikka
Advertising agency entrepreneur
CEO of Albert Hall Finland Oy Ltd


Graphic designer and strategic planner Mikko Reinikka is the CEO of Albert Hall Finland Oy Ltd. The advertising agency was established in 1990 and it specializes in planning strategic corporate images and brand identities. Reinikka has been involved in planning the identities of over 500 Finnish companies and products. Memberships: Board of TASEVI (Tampere Region Communication Society), Tampere Society of Commerce, Audiovisual Communication Qualification Committee of the Finnish National Board of Education, Board of the Advertising Agencies Division of the Finnish Association of Marketing Communication Agencies (MTL) and Helsinki Bourse Club. Mikko Reinikka also enjoys culinary delights and is the restauranteur of Pikkubistro Kattila which was established in 2014.