The Turkish marketing scenein a nutshell

According to The Economist: "... whilst it takes most countries decades to change their image, Turkey has done so in less than one. These changes have not gone unnoticed. It is suggested that it will grow faster than any other country bar India and China and may well become the world's tenth-biggest economy by 2050, with a population which will have risen to almost 100m. If by then, it will have managed to get into the EU, it will be its most populous member, with the youngest population." (*)

Unlike most other countries in the region, Turkey’s marketing communications scene didn’t have to build itself from scratch. It is in fact a largely established market and one that still has massive potential. Indeed, Turkey has a sizeable and growing population of 72 million and, unlike much of Europe, a young one with an average age of 28.5 and 61 percent below the age of 34. These are audiences with a voracious appetite for better living (Turkey’s so-called PPS index – Purchasing Power Standard – valued at 29.9 is expressed in comparison to the EU25 = 100) and highly performing brands. Whilst the global financial crisis obviously affected its economy, it did so (slightly) less than in other parts of Europe and the country’s level of consumption remains very attractive.
Another aspect that makes it appealing to the international marketer is that there are relatively few global brands in Turkey. Indeed, while international services and brands are consolidating their presence, there is room for many more. Moreover, there are some excellent home grown brands which have the potential to move beyond their local market.

The Turkish advertising sector has grown constantly at double digit figures over recent years and is now largely in excess of $ 4 billion. The biggest challenge for the industry is to increase ad spend per capita, which is precisely the reason why Turkey is showing itself to be such an exciting market. Reason too why there have been significant media investments from newcomers in the past, which have spotted the country’s potential.

Another factor driving change and growth in Turkey is the negotiation for EU accession, which formally began in October 2005. Notwithstanding current problems both parties have shown the will to further this project and achievements so far have shown that Turkey may not be as different from the European mainstream. (The Turkish economy ranks 6th in terms of size among the 27 EU countries.)

Turkey’s economic performance (GDP forecast + 2.7 % for 2010) seems to bear this out. Whether it enters the EU or not, by bringing its law in line with those of the Union, Turkey is putting out a very strong "open for business" message to international marketers. Importantly, the country now has political and economic stability. Hyperinflation has been halved from last year to + 6 % and whilst unemployment remains high at + 11 % a Turkish worker now will take 45 % of its income back home during the first year. The legal and financial infrastructure has substantially changed and is more or less in line with that of the EU.

In 2010, Istanbul has been nominated Cultural Capital of Europe. As well as preserving its authenticity, Turkey reflects traditional European values. The Crystal Apple Award, the country’s creative advertising festival now in its 27th year, has clearly secured the status of an innovating European advertising festival.

Turkey also plays a prominent role as the centre of the Turkish world, stretching from the Xingjian province of north-western China across central Asia to considerable expat population in Germany and the Netherlands. Turkish inhabited lands cover 5 times the surface of France and Germany together, with a total population of over 140 million.

Setting a Turkish course?

Art Grup Interpartners’ regional network agency has it roots in the Turkish market. Led by Özgür Saglam and Fehmi Özkan it ranks among the 5 most important independent agencies. Aware of the need to cover the markets of central Asia, Art Grup has founded a fully fledged subsidiary office in Baku (Azerbaidjan) with the objective of assisting their clients to get a better hold on these fast developing marketing territories.

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(*) 19-page special report on Turkey "Anchors aweigh" dated October 21, 2010: copies available from The Economist at under “a special report from Turkey”.