The Role of Authenticity in Cultural Heritage Consumption in Tourism Industry - Case Comparison Between Modern vs. Traditional Representation of Cultural Heritage – Finnish Public Sauna

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School of Business | Master's thesis
Markkinoinnin laitos
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This research is focusing on conducting research on the role of authenticity of cultural heritage consumption in tourism industry – The context being Finnish public sauna. The focal point of the thesis was finding out how consumers feel and react to the authenticity of the two different representations of the Finland’s intangible cultural heritage, the Finnish sauna. The more traditional portrayal of one, was chosen to be the legendary Harjuntorin sauna in Kallio, and the modern portrayal of a public sauna was chosen to be Löyly, located in Southern Helsinki. Through primary research, the goal was to find out how do these more modern types of cultural heritage consumption services emanate and preserve the authentication perceived by consumers. The case comparison was designed to figure out the level of tradition that consumers expect and need in order to regard a public sauna premises as a representation of a Finnish sauna. The subject of public saunas was selected for this research because of the ability to compare modern and more traditional version of cultural heritage consumption, which is not prevalent in the previous literature. The research on the thesis was qualitative in interpretive by nature. The primary research was mainly conducted through five semi structured qualitative interviews which were conducted on frequent public sauna visitors from both Harju’s and Löyly’s public saunas. The reason behind this was, instead of interviewing public sauna entrepreneurs or professionals in the field of cultural heritage, to conduct the interviews on regular consumers who would give a naturalistic, interpretive perspective on the subject. Before the primary research, secondary research was conducted on the field of cultural heritage, authenticity, and the topic of Finnish sauna, as well the urbanizing society of Finland. The findings of this study pointed out that the three strongest themes emerging around the authenticity of the cultural heritage consumption are active sociality, the role of the focal activity within the experience, and importance of the distinctive modern or traditional atmosphere emanating of the heritage consumption. Consumers are open-minded in the perception of the Finnish sauna – they are ready to except that there is a strong variety of offerings within the public sauna-scene, and that there is not just one correct version of the cultural heritage. The perceived authenticity was a strong factor in creating the atmosphere in the sauna premises, but not a necessity in the process of creating an enjoyable sauna experience. The role of Harju and Löyly are seen differently in the lives of consumers, but they both have a strong role to play within the cultural heritage services and both have succeeded in creating a distinctive nature of their own in the eyes of consumers.
Thesis advisor
Weijo, Henri
cultural heritage consumption, authenticity, Finnish public sauna, cultural consumer research
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