Cultural Adaptation via Product Design - Increasing Marketability of SME's Products for Foreign Market Penetration

CulPRO is joint research project between University of Lapland and Luleå University of Technology (of Sweden), and seven regional company partners.

The project aims to understand cultural differences by studying design preferences of different focus groups in three selected countries: South-Korea, Germany and USA. The practical problems stem from design problems once developing a new product or customizing existing product to better match the expectations of the foreign market. Methods to attain such information and to transfer this information into products are also studied. The goals of the project are to:

  • produce relevant information on the selected target cultures in focus.
  • produce information on methods and tools how to collect data/information.
  • demonstrate how the gathered information is transferred into products.
  • illustrate the above process to SMEs in an usable and applicable way.

The project has used case study approach with both quantitative (surveys) and qualitative (interviews) methods. The case studies have represented wide range of different industry sectors, from hunting knives to log houses, and from playground equipment to trailer covers.

Data collection has been carried out during field work in three different countries including South-Korea, Germany and USA. In addition to this research data has also been collected via surveys based on the internet.

An important factor in the data collection has been the first-hand-experience gained by the researchers during the field work. Observations and real contacts in the confronted foreign culture forms tacit knowledge that improves accuracy of interpretation and helps intuition when applying research findings in a design of new product.

A guidebook how to collect design related information on a market new to the company and, how to utilize this information will be published. The guidebook is directed for the SMEs and it will be available in an electronic format (Adobe Acrobat). It will be accessible from within this web-site by end of February 2007.


Project duration:

From 01.08.2004 to 30.10.2006.
The project has been granted to prolonq its duration untill 28.02.2007, retaining its original budget.


Project participants:

Department of Industrial Design
University of Lapland (Finland)

Division of Industrial Design
Luleå University of Technology (Sweden)

Ikihirsi Oy (Finland)
Jaxal Ab (Sweden)
Lappset Group Oy (Finland)
Liko Ab (Sweden)
Marttiini Oy (Finland)
Polardörren Ab (Sweden)
R.O.Rollytech Ab (Sweden)



The project is funded by European Regional Development Fund (EU);
State Provincial Office of Lapland (Finnish national counter funding);
Luleå University of Technology (Swedish national counter funding);
and by participating companies (private funding).


Research personel:

Veikko Kamunen, Professor
Responsible Director of the project
University of Lapland

Jan Lundberg, Professor
Luleå University of Technology

Petri Niininen, Project Manager
University of Lapland

Maria Johansson, Researcher
Luleå University of Technology

Milla Haarakoski, Researcher
University of Lapland


CulPRO’s advisory group:

Anna-Maija Ylimaula (Chair)
University of Oulu

Satu Pesola (Vice Chair)
University of Lapland

Esko Hilden
Länsi-Lapin ammatti-instituutti

Kristiina Järvisalo-Aittola
Länsi-Lapin ammatti-instituutti

Martti Kankaanranta
Länsipohjan Yrittäjät

Jan Lundberg
Luleå University of Technology

Pether Nordblad
Företagarna i Norrbotten

Kari Oittinen
Lapin TE-keskus

Dennis Pettersson
Luleå University of Technology

Gösta Åström
Almi Företagspartner


Supervisors pointed by funders:

Per-Erik Andersson
Norbotten Länsstyrelsen

Anna-Liisa Eeronheimo
Lapin lääninhallitus


Articles, reports:

M.Haarakoski, M.E.Johansson, J.Lundberg (2006):
A Guide to Methods for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Designing for New Markets, Based on Cultural Research Experiences. Proceedings of the ’WonderGround - 2006 Design Research Society International Conference’. In the Making. November 01.-04. 2006, Lissbon, Portugal.



Industrial Design , Luleå University of Technology


Further information:

Petri Niininen, Project Manager
Telephone: 016-341 3318
Mobile: 0400-414933