The major themes for the meeting in Porvoo in Finland were visual marketing and self-development. By definition visual marketing is about connecting marketing messages to images like photos, videos, logos and more. This is important because humans respond best to nonverbal communication. Visual marketing therefore creates more engagement between a brand and its consumers and is very important i.e. in social media marketing. This increased importance of visual marketing is largely due to advances in technology like computers, tablets and mobile phones.
The students from Finland gave us two good examples of visual marketing by Artek and Marimekko. Both companies are well known for being pioneers in Scandinavian Design which is recognized all over the world for a combination of beauty, simplicity, and functionality. The harsh climates of northern Europe influenced Scandinavians to favor utility and simplicity above decoration. This is clearly visible in Arteks anf Marimekkos visual branding and marketing. The visuals are minimalistic and the messages clearly states the uniqueness of Scandinavian and Finish Design.
The Icelandic presentations were about the world known tourist destination The Blue Lagoon and mobile communication and Internet provider NOVA. It is clear that the former has some resemblance to Scandinavian Design by using minimalistic theme in their visual messages and a strong connection to the nature of Iceland. NOVA on the other, like many similar companies in other countries, wants to reach the younger generation with funny, colourful and bold messages.
The students from Latvia presented the telecommunication company Gold Fish and Caffeine coffee roasters. The visual marketing strategies of Gold Fish are very similar to that of NOVA in Iceland with focus on reaching the young with humour, short films and “cherry on the top”. They offer a wide variety of discounts and organise events for students where fun is the main thing with an undertone of sustainable future. Coffee roasters all over the world are putting more effort in distinguishing them from each other with unique experience or “sweet spot”. Caffeine intentionally uses services to engage the customers in a way that creates a memorable event. They do this by focusing on friendship, adventure and relentless passion. They use i.e. Facebook and Instagram for communicating with their customers and try to use eco-friendly material where possible.
Finally, we were invited by the Finish coordinators, Careeria, to participate in a lesson and assignment on the use of visual merchandising by large retailers in Helsinki. The purpose was to learn about tricks retailers use to make visitors buy and spend more. Groups of students were sent to shops in the neighbourhood to gather information on these methods which was very informative for the students.
As Latvia is evolving from a more centralized to market economy companies are placing more emphasis on marketing and customer relations. Three examples of marketing were presented: Mádara is cosmetic producer focusing on exports, LIDO is a domestic restaurant chain with focus on traditions and LMT a hip and cool mobile company mainly directed towards the younger generation. These three companies have very different customer groups and that was clearly presented in their approach and emphasis in marketing.
It is obvious that Latvia faces some social issues on their way to market economy and social businesses are therefore important. As in most other countries this is a bottom up develop- ment in Latvia as was clearly the case in the two businessed that were visited, the companies presented on slides and the fact that they have a special Social Business Law.
Sustainable businesses focus on environmental issues, society and the economy. We got some great examples on different companies approach to sustainablity in Latvia, from local ones (KNAUF, Latvenergo and Mádara) to global (ask.fm).
From Finland successful marketing ideas from NESTE, KONE and Kesko were presented. NESTE is a marketer and seller of fuels and oil products and is aiming at a lower carbon footprint than EU ́s targets and wants to become a solution provider for chemical recycling. KONE is a leader in sustainability and has a large share of loyal customers. Kesko aims at increasing their market share in Finland by revising their business model.
In the social business sector three companis from Finland were prensented: Mifuko, Kanresta and Sotek. They have different focus areas but all reflect the desire to improve society.
The introduction of sustainable businesses in Finland emphasised the 17 UN Sustainable Goals 2015 and what they could do to follow that up by investing in green economy, conduct policy experiments and double down on education.
The Icelandic presentations focusued on resource parks and business cluster formation. The population is small and therefore it ́s important to collaborate towards a common goal. The marketing campaign Inspired by Iceland was a measure to minimize the decrease in tourists visiting the country and turned out to be very successful.
It is clear that the unique nature of Iceland and geothermal energy gives them a potential for increasing tourism and develop new industries.
Although Iceland is doing well economically they face some of the same social problems as other countries, i.e. inclusion of the disabled and more sustainable cities. They represented the social accelerator SNJALLRÆÐI and several spin-offs from that.