In 2013, entrepreneur Marjaana Laajakoski bought the 80-year-old company Helsingin Olkain (eng. Suspenders of Helsinki), which she has slowly brought to this millennium, while respecting traditions. The company manufactures suspenders and belts for various needs, such as outdoor activities and sports. Their export has grown well through Finnish online stores that sell hunting and camping equipment. The products are of high quality and they are 100 % handmade in Finland.

To commemorate her five years of entrepreneurship with Helsingin Olkain, Marjaana decided to carry out her ambitious goal and launch a new product line for business attire. The problem, common in many handcraft companies, was the lack of packaging. There were no ready-made packages for business attire suspenders and belts that would had met the high requirements of the new target group.

Assisted by Business Finland’s innovation voucher, Marjaana hired a packaging designer. Outi Oravainen from DesignCompany, a branding and packaging design specialist, was chosen as the designer. With Outi’s help, a suspender package was designed in order to increase the value of the product and make it more appealing in the eyes of the new target group.

When the prototype of the package was finished, it was tested within the target group against the current package, a plastic bag with an attached hanging label. Ten business attire wearers were interviewed during consumer testing, applying our Value Toolkit®, a consumer research tool developed for measuring and visualising packaging value.

The willingness-to-pay measured for the new package was a whopping 70 % higher compared to the current package, and nine out of the ten consumers said they would rather buy the product in the renewed package. Our Sense N Insight score, developed in our research concept and measuring the sales potential of the packaging, showed a 57 percent unit increase for the renewed package in comparison to the old package.  This gave confidence in the project, and the structural design process for the forthcoming belt packaging. With the belt packaging, coating expertise of Teknos, a Finnish paint manufacturer, will be piloted. This cooperation was established through the Finnish Packaging Valley ecosystem, also funded by Business Finland.

The ROI and payback periods for Helsingin Olkain’s packaging development and research investment were calculated, turning out to be a staggering 1.500% and 7 months with a quite moderate sales forecast for a ten-year period.

Marjaana told me she has spent sleepless nights wondering who would buy the products. My response was: most likely not many of the current customers, but the new package will bring you many new clients.

An ambitious and high-quality product deserves a worthy package. Packaging is certainly the most important medium for a small company. If the product is of good quality, a premium package sells itself and raises the brand and product value. This seems obvious for us as packaging professionals,  yet only a few companies understand the importance of packaging for their businesses.

It has been nice to follow Marjaana’s journey, and see how an impressive package can open new doors for a company. This package will surely be Helsingin Olkain’s most profitable investment. Or what do you think?

Virpi Korhonen

Package Testing & Research, co-founder of Sense N Insight

virpi.korhonen(a)senseninsight.com