Finland has a relatively young self-storage market, and most people are positively surprised when they tour a modern facility for the first time. Customers visit because they have an urgent need. This includes storing items while moving, renovating or downsizing, or during family changes such as marriage or divorce. Only in a relatively few cases do they seek self-storage to free up space at home. For that purpose, Finns still typically find other solutions.
This means the main competitor for storage companies isn’t other facility operators but home storage, summer houses and even saunas. Yes, a sauna, the holy room of Finns, is very often used as a storage space! A recent study shows that as many as 28 percent of Finland saunas aren’t used as relaxation rooms but to store sports equipment, children’s stuff and more.
The Finnish Self Storage Association (FSSA) commissioned a consumer survey from YouGov Finland about space at home and solutions to free it. Key findings include:
- 54 percent of Finns ages 35 to 54 feel they have too little space for their belongings in their homes.
- Storage space outside a home is more popular among men than women. Women are more apt to purchase less and organize their homes.
- Up to 67 percent of families with young children feel they have too little space. More than half feel they should consider new storage space or give up some of their items. In addition, more than half say their need for storage varies according to season.
- 54 percent of respondents living in the Helsinki metropolitan area reported they have too little space for belongings in their homes. In other large cities, 41.6 percent agree.
- Self-storage isn’t well known. Two thirds of respondents said they aren’t familiar with the service.
- Respondents reported they would most likely use self-storage during a renovation or a move.
- 15 percent of respondents said they’d consider using self-storage to free up space at home, while 11 percent reported they’d use it for seasonal or hobby storage.
What’s critical in a young market like this is improving product awareness. Finnish operators need smart ways to make customers more aware of self-storage and how it can improve their lives, so they’ll see it as an alternative for storing one’s belongings. Also, people need to understand the real cost of living in a big apartment or house just to store an excessive amount of stuff. Investing in a large home is somehow more accepted than investing in storage space.
So, how should self-storage operators educate this undeveloped market? The best way is to get people to visit facilities and explain the product to them. Once they try it in an urgent-need situation, they’ll see how convenient it is. It’s much easier to retain existing tenants than to get someone else to consider such an alternative.
Other important education methods include public relations, content marketing and social selling. The industry needs more coverage in newspapers and lifestyle media. In addition, operators need to conduct smart content marketing to explain the solution to individuals and businesses in different situations. Most important, everyone in the storage business needs to spread the word about the offering, its benefits, its quality and the high customer satisfaction, both for individuals and commercial tenants.
The Finnish self-storage market is growing approximately 15 percent annually. The growth of modern, high-quality facilities is even higher, as this figure includes conversions of old sites that have been acquired by the market’s strongest players. The local industry leaders include Cityvarasto and Pelican Self Storage. The FSSA counts seven companies as members.
The need for extra space is evident in Finland, but only a small portion of the population knows about modern self-storage. Local operators are doing their best to increase awareness to consumers and businesses. In a young market like this, communication, public relations and content marketing are especially important tools to drive growth.
Jussi Tolvanen is the chairman of the Finnish Self Storage Association and country director for Pelican Self Storage. He’s worked most of his career within the consumer-goods business. Before joining Pelican in 2016, he spent 14 years in leadership roles in retail and wholesale. He also has three years of experience representing a consumer-goods supplier. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit https://pelicanselfstorage.fi.