Harvia studied Finnish and German sauna preferences – one thing unites
There are differences in the sauna habits of Finns and Germans – in both countries, however, the popularity of the traditional sauna holds its own. This is what a recent survey, which was attended by 400 Finnish and 400 German consumer panel members who go to sauna at least a few times per year, says. The results highlighted the importance of sauna for the well-being of the body and mind, as well as the values of sustainable development. The study was commissioned by Harvia, one of the leading companies operating in the sauna and spa market globally.
Harvia especially wanted to find out the motives for sauna bathing and what is expected from the sauna experience.
– We wanted to better understand the consumers of the two large sauna markets, which are important to us, and also to identify differences in habits and expectations related to sauna bathing. It is also interesting to examine whether the attitude towards sauna bathing has changed compared to previous studies and, if so, in what way,” says Päivi Juolahti, Vice President of Marketing at Harvia.
Sauna bathing has been on the rise recently. The sauna market is growing globally by about 5 percent annually and the growth is strongly linked to the megatrend of well-being.
– People want to invest more in their well-being. It is also necessary, because in order to cope with a busy and consuming working life, the importance of recovery has only been emphasized.
The sauna has many scientifically proven health benefits as has been reported more and more in recent years. This has contributed to the growing popularity of sauna. Studies show that people who go to the sauna several times a week have a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Sauna bathing also lowers blood pressure, protects against dementia, and improves the effects of exercise. Sauna has also been found to have a positive effect on sleep quality.
Traditional Finnish sauna holds its own – Germans also interested in infrared saunas
The popularity of the traditional sauna came out on top in both Finland and Germany.
The peace, temperature and humidity of the traditional Finnish sauna bring the most authentic and enjoyable sauna experience to most respondents. Germans were more interested in the steam sauna or infrared sauna than Finns.
– The long tradition of sauna bathing in Finland can be seen here and also the fact that cottage saunas in Finland are often quite ascetic. The traditional sauna maintains its solid position. However, we see that newer forms of sauna bathing, such as combi and hybrid saunas, are also growing in popularity in Finland. They offer new ways of relaxation that can be easily combined into your current sauna, Juolahti says.
In Germany, there is no strong ideal for traditional saunas like in Finland, and sauna bathing is more of a trend issue, part of a lifestyle that focuses on overall well-being.
For Germans, a sauna experience consisting of several different sensory experiences was important. For them, lighting, interior design and the fragrance and soundscape were of greater importance than for Finns. For Finns, the correct temperature of the sauna, the humidity of the steam and the sauna drinks were an important part of a successful sauna experience. However, cleanliness was the most important criterion in both countries.
The well-being of the mind and body is sought in the sauna
According to the survey, the motives for sauna bathing were very similar in both countries: 80% of respondents seek pleasure in sauna bathing, 72% relieve stress and 69% mental well-being.
– It is strongly visible here that the sauna is part of the wellness megatrend: the sauna is no longer just a place to wash, but it is a place to recover, relax and calm down. The importance of mental well-being in the midst of demanding everyday life has grown, as the results confirm. Perhaps especially now during the coronavirus epidemic, the sauna will be used to provide the necessary recovery for both the body and the mind.
For Finns, tradition and washing are the most important motives for sauna bathing, and in the Germans’ answers recovery from exercise and detox cleansing as well as the beauty care aspect were emphasized. There were no differences between different genders or age groups in what is sought from sauna bathing.
Sustainable development and responsibility increasingly important
Sustainability values rose to an important role in the responses. More than 40% considered the energy consumption of the sauna, the ecological building materials, and organic sauna products important. Among Germans, sustainable development was a slightly more important value than among Finns. For respondents aged over 55, sustainability was more important than for those aged under 35.
– This trend has been visible for a long time and we see that the importance of responsibility will only grow in this industry as well. Harvia invests in sustainable development on many fronts. We use the world’s most responsible stainless steels from Outokumpu as a raw material in our heaters, as well as sustainably sourced and PECF certified wood materials in our saunas. In product development, continuous quality development and especially cleaner burning of wood stoves have been our most important goals for years. Through long-term product development and research, we have already achieved one-fifth lower particulate emissions and 70% lower carbon dioxide emissions with the latest models, Juolahti says.