An extensive academic survey conducted among the Japanese demonstrated that Finland has an exceptionally strong and positive country image in Japan. Conducted in April 2016, the survey included more than 1 600 Japanese respondents. It was used to compare the images that the Japanese associated with Finland, Sweden and Denmark in several theoretical dimensions. The study reveals a number of interesting facts related to country images.
First of all, the Japanese respondents clearly have a more positive image of Finland than of Sweden or Denmark. Secondly, perception of Finland's country image was very positive in all of the measured dimensions and indicators. Finland is linked with positive images concerning education, well-being and technology competence and Finnish people also inspire trust among the Japanese. The third observation is associated with the fact that Finland is considered particularly attractive among Japanese women and by those under the age of 24 and over 61. The fourth, and perhaps most interesting, observation is that Finland's country image is most positive among Japanese people who have visited Finland.
Japan provides Finnish design and lifestyle entrepreneurs with a lot of opportunities
The study also reveals areas in which Finland still trails Sweden and Denmark. One of these is the appeal of Finnish tourist attractions in comparison to those in Sweden and Denmark. The results indicate that Finland does not have the same kind of clear tourist magnets as in Sweden and Denmark. However, this does not detract from Finnish attractiveness in the eyes of the Japanese.
The results clearly show that offering tourism services to the Japanese now provides entrepreneurs with a lot of opportunities. Visit Finland and Finnair have taken advantage of this opportunity by developing tailored stopover services for Japanese travellers. These kind of solutions make it possible to benefit financially from this positive country image. In addition to developing tourism services, it is also important to see Japan and its 127 million consumers and their purchasing power as a potential market area for Finnish products. Japan now provides Finnish design and lifestyle entrepreneurs with a lot of opportunities. We can assume that Finland's positive country image also reflects on individual Finnish manufacturers and products, thus laying the foundation for commercial success in Japan.
The study was carried out in co-operation with Aalto University, the University of Turku and the University of Tokyo. The embassies of Finland, Sweden and Denmark in Tokyo as well as the Finnish-Japanese Chamber of Commerce and the Finnish Institute in Japan participated in collecting the survey data. The survey was implemented with a grant from the Yrjö Uitto Foundation.
The results will be processed at the Nordic Branding expert seminar being held at the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo on 9 June.
Arto Lindblom, D.Sc. (Econ.), Professor, Aalto University
Taru Lindblom, D.Sc. (Econ.), Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Turku
Miikka J. Lehtonen, D.Sc. (Econ.), Assistant Professor, University of Tokyo