Educational co-creation can provide valuable information about the current needs in working life and engage students in a meaningful way thus promoting their learning outcomes significantly (Myréen, S. 2019). Students in cosmetics industry planned and conducted a co-creation project with Business France Finland where they acted as consultants providing professional information to French cosmetics companies who are planning to access the Finnish cosmetics market. The output of this educational co-creation project was a compact information leaflet for the French cosmetics companies interested in entering the Finnish market with the help of Business France Finland. The idea is to let the companies familiarise themselves with the information leaflet before entering the Finnish market. Business France is an agency that promotes French companies as well as helps French businesses to find commercial partners in target countries. Marianne Kaltiokumpu-Blomgrén from Business France Finlande was pleased with the outcome and considered that the information leaflet was really good and informative providing an up-to-date and compact description on the Finnish cosmetics market.
The output of the project: an information leaflet
When entering the Finnish cosmetics market, the French cosmetics companies should consider among other things the Finnish customer profile, ingredients used in the products, the common skin types the customers have in Finland as well as the market size.
In Finland, there are four very different seasons. Dry and cold winters, short warm and moderately rainy summers, as well as spring and autumn. The weather is fluctuating and the temperature can change quickly. This is why Finnish people usually have quite sensitive skin, which needs protection from the varying temperatures. Finland is also a very long country, and there can be huge weather differences when comparing Southern Finland to Northern Finland.
The Finns usually suffer from dry or dehydrated skin in wintertime because of the cold and windy weather and the drying effects of central heating. Furthermore, the Finnish skin is usually quite fair and burns easily, so it is important to wear sunscreen on a sunny day. Thus, Finns would need different skin care products in summer, e.g. thinner creams with a sun protection factor, and protective creams with calming and soothing properties for wintertime. Hot saunas and swimming in cold lakes can also stress on the skin, and because most Finns have sensitised skin, they like to use gentle products that do not contain many allergens. Finnish consumers seek for products that will moisturise and nourish their skin, but with less synthetic chemicals and fragrances.
In their cosmetic products, Finnish consumers usually value high-quality, environmentally friendly and natural ingredients, as well as the use of locally produced ingredients and materials. They are aware of the ingredients in cosmetic products, and it is therefore important to state which ingredients the product contains and why. The majority of Finnish cosmetics users do not own or use a large amount of cosmetic products and like to keep their beauty routines simple and quick. In addition, sustainability and reducing the carbon footprint is a matter of heart for many, and people have started to pay more attention to the ingredients and packaging in cosmetic products from this viewpoint. To sum up, the keywords of Finnish cosmetic values are purity, naturalness and responsibility.
Finland is a consumer society where the main determinant of purchase is quality. The price of the product matters also to the Finnish customer, so they are very quality-oriented searching for efficient products with reasonable prices. In 2019, the value of the Finnish cosmetics market was just over one billion and an average Finn spent round 189 € in cosmetics. Finnish customers also want to have multifunctional products, cherish individuality and are constantly looking for new experiences. This applies also to cosmetics. Consumers want not only value for their money, but also to have the best for themselves and for their families. An easy access to the product is also very important to Finnish customers, and they like to buy their cosmetic products from grocery stores, or order them online. It would be important to provide the availability to order the brand’s products online from the brands online store or from other retailers.
The packaging in the Finnish cosmetics market has to meet the regulations and laws set by the officials both in the Europe Union and in Finland. Finland follows the European Union regulations on cosmetics products but also the Finnish laws. The Finnish law on cosmetic products states for example that some of the information on the packaging should be written both in Finnish and in Swedish. The parts that should be written both in Finnish and Swedish are the nominal content of the product, the date of minimum durability (if the product is preserved maximum 30 months) as well as the particular precautions to be observed in the use and function of the cosmetic product. All of this information should be in the package and the container. If the cosmetic product is not sold in a package or a container, a separate booklet or some other description containing the information should be given to the customer. The packaging of cosmetic products should be beautiful so that it attracts customers, but also recyclable and biodegradable, as Finnish people are very keen on nature.
Finns may not try the new product immediately, because they like to have their time and get to know to the product and brand a bit first. Social media should be used to promote and give information about the brand and its products, especially if the brand wants to target young adults. Social media is also a great way to share experiences on the products or its details, which is why many Finns look up products online before making their purchase choice. Usually the younger consumers have more interest in the cosmetics industry and are interested in new innovations. It should also be noticed that the market size and customer segments are relatively small in Finland. To hold on to Finnish consumers, it is necessary to focus on customer service and good buying experience. If a brand manages to convince the Finnish customer to buy the brand’s product and the Finns end up liking it, there is a high probability that they will come back and buy it again. Finns are very reliable customers and once they find a label that they trust, they will recommend it to others as well.
Studying in the Degree Programme in Beauty and Cosmetics
Laurea University of Applied Sciences offers a unique degree programme in beauty and cosmetics. This programme combines cosmetic science and marketing. The curriculum includes the basics of chemistry, raw material information, legislation, marketing and entrepreneurship as well as biochemistry, cosmetics regulation, cosmetic products and service design. Marketing knowledge is excellent in Laurea, and the main emphasis of studies is placed on selling and buying cosmetics.
The degree programme in beauty and cosmetics includes 210 credits in total. The credits contain both compulsory and optional studies, two work placements and thesis. The internship can be taken in one or two parts in the 3rd and 4th year lasting 10 weeks taking place for example in an import company or a cosmetic online store. The students have an opportunity to work with authentic customer projects throughout their studies, which will prepare them into the real business world and provide networking opportunities in the field.
Since the field of beauty and cosmetics is an international line of business, the students also have studies in different languages. Internationality is part of the studies in many ways, and the studies also include a chance to globalise through international student exchange, which is voluntary, but much encouraged. There is also a possibility to do one or both work placements abroad.
Every second year, the degree programme in beauty and cosmetics is carried out through blended learning methods. This means that the students have in-class activities every second week. Blended learning also enables current beauty professionals to take part in the studies while working, and thus update their knowledge and share their expertise with other students.
The diploma of Bachelor of Beauty and Cosmetics can lead to several career paths. The possible job titles include Account Manager, Brand Manager, Beauty Advisor, Representative, Marketing Assistant, Marketing Manager, Purchaser, Purchasing Assistant, Store Manager, Spa Manager, Team Manager, Product Developer, Entrepreneur, Assistant and Brand Developer as well as Vocational Teacher (which requires a qualification and relevant work experience in beauty therapy or hairdressing).
A Bachelor of Beauty and Cosmetics can pursue the studies for Master of Beauty and Cosmetics after two years of suitable work experience. The duration of the Master studies is from 1.5 to 2.5 years. The Master studies combine in-depth cosmetics regulation, sustainable development and international perspective.
An educational co-creation project presents an authentic learning opportunity for the students mirroring real-life tasks. According to Chemi, T. & Krogh, L. (2019) continuously developing curriculum is the foundation for building education that will meet the demands of society and the workplace. Preparing students for becoming 21st century knowledge workers entails preparing them for an unknown future. Thus, critical reflection, independent thinking, creativity and a strong sense of navigating in the unforeseen are among the skills required of the individual student. Educational co-creation enhances all these skills as students shift from being the audience to actively developing the content of their curriculum through collaborative projects.
The results of this project correspond to the findings in the previous educational co-creation project (Myréen, S. 2019) as there was also a significant improvement in student engagement in the four aspects introduced by Kahu (2013). According to Kahu (2013) student engagement can be described from four different perspectives: the behavioural perspective, which focuses on effective teaching practice; the psychological perspective, which views engagement as an internal individual process; the socio-cultural perspective, which considers the critical role of socio-cultural context; and ﬁnally a holistic perspective, which strives to draw these strands together.
Five students answered to the feedback questionnaire after their study unit, and 80% of the respondents considered that the co-creation project with Business France Finlande made them more engaged in the assignment discussing the Finnish cosmetics market. Whereas 60% of the respondents perceived that the co-creation project with Business France Finlande made them more intrinsically motivated towards the assignment discussing the Finnish cosmetics market, and they also felt that their motivation towards the assignment increased because they were more engaged and because the assignment had a broader social context.
“It was nice to think in general what companies should think before entering to Finnish market.”
“It was very interesting to be working on the French Beauty Tour as it is a real business case. The final text looks great.”
- Business France, Corporate brochure. Retrieved on 18th May 2020 from: https://www.businessfrance.fr/Media/PRODUCTION/Qui-Sommes-Nous/Business-France-Corporate-Brochure.pdf
- Chemi, T. & Krogh, L. (2017). Co-Creation in Higher Education : Students and Educators Preparing Creatively and Collaboratively to the Challenge of the Future. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Brill | Sense. ISBN 9789463511179. Retrieved on 29th May from: http://search.ebscohost.com.nelli.laurea.fi/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1594180&site=ehost-live
- Industries Cosmétiques, International special issue 2020. Retrieved on 18th May from: https://www.flipsnack.com/revue/industries-cosm-tiques-special-issue-2020-2021/full-view.html
- Kahu, Ella R. 2013. Framing student engagement in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 38:5, 758-773, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2011.598505
- Myréen, S. (2019). Are you ready to encounter foreign patients with infectious diseases? – Developing nursing students’ language skills through educational co-creation. Kieli, koulutus ja yhteiskunta, 10(4). Retrieved on 18th May 2020 from: https://www.kieliverkosto.fi/fi/journals/kieli-koulutus-ja-yhteiskunta-toukokuu-2019/are-you-ready-to-encounter-foreign-patients-with-infectious-diseases-developing-nursing-students-language-skills-through-educational-co-creation