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Blog 10.12.2019

Innovation and courage helps to succeed in the Danish market

Denmark is a good stepping-stone for Finnish companies, when heading for the continental Europe. The country functions as an excellent test market where you can hone your product and service to perfection before entering further markets. If the product succeeds on the competitive Danish market, it is ready for any market.
Bioeconomy and Cleantech
Health and wellbeing
Terhi Rasmussen

Senior Advisor, Business Finland, Denmark
+358 50 381 9915


When in Finland we discuss the labor market structure, the social and healthcare sector or societal models, we often use Denmark as a benchmark. Both countries are sometimes complemental, sometimes competitors, butthere are other things than market size connecting Finland and Denmark. Both countries are strong onfor example, in the life science, ICT and Cleantech sectors. There is an abundance of options for cooperation, and I feel that there are more things in common between the Nordic countries than there are differences, although each culture has its own characteristics, of course.

I have lived in Copenhagen for twenty years. As an advisor at Business Finland, I assist Finnish companies in taking their first steps in entering the Danish market, as well as globally, especially in the health and wellness sector. I feel privileged to have a front-row seat in seeing what Finnish businesses have to offer to the world markets. Born and raised in an entrepreneurial family, I am fortunate to get towitness, when Finns are taking their operations abroad with the f sisu attitude. It takes courage and agility to enter any new market.

The Danish economy has managed to grow even when the European economy has been stagnating.

If you are in the process looking into your first export markets, Denmark can be a good place to start. It is nearby, and it is in an affordable distance to visit, which is a benefit when seeking first customers and building up your local network. Denmark has a small, yet stable economy. The Danish economy has managed to grow even when the European economy has been stagnating. The life science and energy sectors have kept the Danish economy rolling.

According to many surveys, Denmark is the easiest place to do business. You can get started with a small investment and some market understanding. The labor market is flexible, due to the famous flex-security model and establishing a company is easy. Denmark is a neighboring market, thus easy to approach, great place to test and further develop your service offering. You will quite timely get an idea whether or not there is room in the market for your product or service.

Where is the business potential in Denmark?

The sustainability and accountability are reflected on everything

Sustainable and accountable business models and way of living took over the country quickly, and already for the past couple of years, sustainability and responsibility have been in the core all operations. Both individuals, companies and organizations are orienting themselves accordingly. Taking the sustainability of your business operations into account is more of a standard expectation and penetrating through all social levels in Denmark, thus not only a mantra for top levels. For instance, the green development targets of the government of Denmark are incomparable.

New innovations are welcome

Danes are quick to adapt to new technology, and Denmark is leading the way in digitalization.. This is why brining innovations either in products, services or business models can pay off. I have noticed that lately new service concepts have been very quick to take off in the country.  Danes  have a low threshold in trying out and embracing new things.

Think localization

Naturally, Denmark is not just a promised land of fairytales told by H.C. Andersen. The truth is that a well-localized product sells best. In this respect, the Danes are like the Finns: they prefer to buy  products and solutions that they know from before and perceive domestic. This is why it is of such great importance that you spend some time understanding how to make your product fit to the Danish operational environment. It is not a mission impossible, but it does require some investments and will to understand the market.

Business potential in many sectors

Denmark is a close by market, so from the business point of view there is potential for Finnish companies in several sectors. Sustainable urban development, sustainable energy solutions, health-sector solutions, service sector, and ICT sector, all have some interesting developments on going and absolutely worth to keep an eye on. F These sectors offer especially good potential for cooperation, co-development and increased trade between Finland and Denmark. There are active company clusters in many sectors in Denmark, and these are excellent places to start gaining a market knowledge and a foothold in the market.

Six tips for entering the Danish market

1. Time is money for Danes

Danes have a more flexible notion towards time. When we Finns arrive for a meeting well in time before it starts, the Danes arrive just when the clock strikes, or one or two minutes after. Time is money for the Danes, and they do not normally meet with people in business purposes just for the fun of it. In Denmark, it can be hard work to schedule sales meetings, so if you have managed to set up one, you can rest assured that the Danes are legitimately  interested.

2. Remember good sense of humor!

It is quite typical for Danes to playfully tease and challenge their discussion partners during the first meeting. They want to see where you stand. This is no reason to get worried, so just adopt a relaxed mindset and don’t forget humor, when communicating with the Danes! In the end of the day, the slightly sarcastic sense of humor is what connects us with Danes.

3. Don't forget your Hygge Snak skills 

Silence can pose a challenge for the talkative Dane. Before diving in to the substance of the meeting, there is always some small talk to create an appropriate atmosphere of hygge to set off: it can include, for example, a friendly discussion of football or handball game results before moving on to the actual agenda.

4. Danes are traders 

Danes are the world's best people in cooperating and establishing relationships. After all, the Danes have a long history of trading and excellent skills in negotiating! Decision-making is usually more dynamic and hierarchies lower than in Finland. Teamwork is a prominent feature in the culture. So, cooperation with the Danes may feel surprisingly easy.

5. Pragmatists 

What I love about Denmark is, that Danes are first and foremost very solution-oriented people. They are very pragmatic, and this is visible in the country’s politics, trade policies, as well as in the legislation. They have the impressive capability and capacity to change the society quickly, should it be needed. They do not dwell on things.

6. Fortune favors the brave 

You should have an open mind when entering into new discussions with Danes and look for a win-win cooperation models. Denmark is a fairly small playing field, which requires some level of utilizing your connections in order to advance in the game. This is also the reason why you cannot afford to make too many mistakes either. However, the rumor mill, in positive sense, also works the other way around: if you succeed, the good word-of-mouth can travel fast.

Useful information about Denmark 

Our blog series features tips from Business Finland's advisors on trading successfully in the export market. Experts on various countries introduce readers to the local culture and the market's special considerations for Finnish companies. The advisors also tell their own stories in the blogs, including how they ended up in the country they are writing about.