This week marks the burial of the most significant Finnish consumer brand of recent decades, Nokia.
The board of Nokia prefers to look forward. That is their prerogative. For me personally, it remains a mystery that the brand, which used to be responsible for 41 of the 100 mobile phones sold on this globe, will now voluntarily evacuate from the still simmering oilrig. Many of us small shareholders feel we have been sold out. I do, too, even though I made some nice profit with my investment, as I did not buy any shares before the price had gone below 4 €. But now I am selling out, as well.
From the nation's point-of-view, loosing the consumer brand Nokia means moving from "Nokialandia" to "Gamelandia", where Angry Birds and Supercell, hopefully among others, are keeping the spirits up. - Finlandia Vodka never really did.
But how are Finnish consumer brands doing otherwise? Are there other areas, where they have some significance?
At the moment it seems like Iittala, for example, has some good vibes going on, and that their strategy for Asia might prove successful. Family company Marja Kurki is selling silk to the Chinese and Koreans, which never seizes to amaze me. Marimekko is trying to reduplicate their success in Japan onto other Asian countries, with questionable potential.
The course of the US of A has proven much more difficult. Yet some established brands - such as Marimekko - continue to bang their heads against the walls of New York, while newcomers such as Ivana Helsinki and Lumi Accessories are making small breakthroughs.
But, at the moment the brand that is making up for the loss of Finnish self-esteem brought first up and then down by Nokia, is Angry Birds. The game itself has broken several records. In terms of revenue, plush toys and a whole bunch of other spin-off products contribute even more, thanks to clever visual branding. Still, the biggest significance from the national perspective comes from the business, which other Finnish companies have been able to pull off by licensing the coveted brand. Maybe Mr. Vesterbacka is exaggerating - the companies themselves are not publishing exact numbers - but I do believe that Fazer, Lappset, Olvi, Primesmith, and Reima, among others, have increased their sales significantly with the Angry Birds product lines, and even been able to enter completely new market areas. I think the family Hed and the Mighty Eagle Vesterbacka have earned every cent of their success. And next we will witness how the Finnish education services take flight with the Birds.
Jolla Mobile is of course a brand that all Finns can now wish good luck for. For China, I have suggested them to grab the coat tails (or, more specifically, entrance routes) of Ikea when promoting their devices. Maybe a similar strategy becomes readily available and hopefully victorious for Olvi, now that a certain Mr. Kamprad has been stocking up on it. Would you not want to enjoy some of the world's best beers, long drinks and soft drinks with your meatballs while in China, for example?
Disclaimer: At the time of writing this post, I own shares in the following companies mentioned: Fiskars (Iittala brand), Marimekko, Nokia (but not for long), and Olvi. - Kirsi Kommonen