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Lobbyists want Finnish sauna rebranded abroad

An association with dozens of Finnish companies under its roof says it wants the Finnish sauna experience to take the world by storm – specifically China. The organisation's executive director says that the market for an authentic Finnish sauna there is "enormous".

Siriuksen sauna.
A traditional-looking Finnish sauna, which a lobby group wants to rebrand and standardise. Image: Miia Roivainen / Yle

Finnish lobby organisation Sauna From Finland wants to bring Finland's unique sauna experience to places where it is as yet unknown. Executive director Carita Harju has her marketing language down pat:

"We Finns know what the thrill of the sauna is. But outside our borders that experience is as yet unknown," she says.

Sauna From Finland, which Harju heads, includes dozens of Finnish companies with services or products connected to the sauna. It goes without saying that these firms would benefit from the reputation – or brand – of Finnish saunas going nuclear.

Harju says that one of the key differences between a Finnish sauna and non-Finnish equivalents is that in Finnish ones bathers can throw water on the sauna stove and control the temperature of the room. Many international sauna services keep the temperature too high, she says.

5,000 hotels in lobbyists' sights

Sauna From Finland says that were the Finnish sauna brand more well known abroad, the market for such a service would be "enormous". Harju will soon be travelling to China on this very business, where a local hotel association has some 5,000 hotels under its wing.

"Understanding the sauna as a holistic experience is key," Harju says.

Her association is developing a quality control manual that is meant to explain the wonders – and criteria – of an authentic Finnish sauna. This manual could then be used by hotels as a guide to quality standards.

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