Products by Kokkola based PaaPii Design are sold in Japan for the first time. Wooden trays, cutting boards and coasters can now be bought from Metsä Village, a large Nordic themed entertainment complex northwest of Tokyo. Metsä Village is also the home of the Japanese Moominvalley Park. During Christmas time PaaPii products will also be available in a pop-up shop in Tokyo, in the Omotesandon area. Both places are well known to Finland fans in Japan.
– The Nordic style is attractive to Japanese customers. High quality design, natural materials, Scandinavian colorful prints and of course the cuteness – kawaii – is important. In Japan the Nordic countries often refer especially to Finland. Despite the geographical distance and differences in culture, there are a lot of similarities in the Finnish and Japanese mentalities. Perhaps PaaPii prints appeal to the Japanese for the same reasons, PaaPii’s entrepreneur and designer Anniina Isokangas is pondering.
The Japanese market feels distant when you look at it from the Kokkola point of view, but the export efforts became possible through Viexpo’s business project, which started in 2019. The first business trip to Japan was in January 2020, unfortunately just before the pandemic stopped the world. Nevertheless, the project provided us with contacts, valuable information about the market, more understanding for the Japanese culture and plans regarding the future.
The second excursion to Tokyo, in May 2022, helped Anniina to find the right partners for launching PaaPii products in Japan. Having good partners and being active are equally important especially in the Japanese market. Viexpo, Business Finland and the Finnish Embassy in Tokyo helped launching the export. Brochures, setting up Japanese social media channels and the website paapii.jp support the export efforts.
In the future, PaaPii wants to build a business in Japan through licensing. Licensing makes it possible to design new kind of products and produce them according to the needs of the world’s third largest consumer market. It requires accuracy when choosing a partner. The products will have to pass PaaPii’s criteria on quality and sustainability.