We’ve created this guide to help you get closer to your Finnish customers. A web presence that is in tune with Finland’s culture will make your customers feel well disposed to you, and give them the confidence to do business with you. By understanding these little yet important details, you'll be in a good position right from the start in your new market.
2 The main language
Finnish is the main spoken and written language in Finland. It is spoken by 89% of the population. Swedish is spoken by 6% of the population, and Sami is spoken by less than 1%.
Should you be formal or informal when addressing your customers?
You can write about your products formally or informally. It depends on what fits your product or service. Both styles are acceptable in Finland. Examples of products written in playful, and informal way include YouTube, Gmail, and Google Play.
If you have a financial product, a legal service, or are talking about money, you should adopt a more formal tone and style.
Ease of doing business in Finland
The World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2019 report ranked Finland as 17th out of 190 countries.
4 Numbering systems and formats
The thousand separator is a comma (,)
- e.g. 1,524 people.
- The country code is +358. Telephone numbers are usually in the format of "+358 (0) 12 3456789".
- Freephone numbers have the 116 or 0800 prefix.
5 Currency format
The Finnish trade in Euros. This is represented by the euro symbol €. Its trading three letter code is EUR. The € is placed after the figure. The coin denomination is the ‘cent’ represented by a c.
The note denominations are 500€ 200€ 100€ 50€ 20€ 10€ 5€. The coin denominations are 2€, 1€, 50c, 20c, 10c, 5c, 2c, and 1c cents.
When writing a legal document or contract it is compulsory to write the code EUR before the figure e.g. “the amount required is EUR 200.”
6 Date format
In Finland the date format is DD/MM/YY or DD/MM/YYYY. A full point separates the day, month, and year, e.g. 24.03.17 or 24.03.2019.
The country’s Swedish speakers often write the date with a forward stroke and a space between the month and year, e.g. 31/5 2002.
7 Hour Formats
The 12-hour clock is preferred in everyday speech and should be written as at 9.35 p.m. with a full stop acting as the separator.
The 24-hour format is favoured on digital devices like PCs, phones, tablets, etc. and is the standard format on Android where the separator is a colon, e.g. 14:24.
8 Working days
Standard working days are Monday to Friday.
9 Things to avoid in the Finnish market
Every culture has different superstitions and traditions which are always worth noting, especially when entering a new market. The Finnish consider the number 13 to be unlucky.
10 Important localisation tips
Here are the top seven translation tips that will make you sound like a local in no time:
Be careful to localise all numbering, pricing, date formats, measurements, currencies etc.
Stay clear of colloquialisms and expressions used in your language, as they may not translate in the Finnish market. For example, local slang.
Avoid machine translations, as they lose context and local subtleties.
Take account of cultural differences so you don’t confuse or offend your Finnish audience. For example, don’t mention Boxing Day in a promotion or assume that it is understood.
Marketing copy created for your native audience is not always ideal for a Finnish audience. In such cases, use, if possible, a native Finnish speaker to ensure you have kept your original idea and tone, while making the copy more suited for a Finnish audience.
Keep sentences to their original length, and don’t cut their length to fit a specific space or the meaning will be lost.
Use actual native Finnish speakers to translate and to review your final communications.