In today's fast moving digital world, it's difficult to stay on top of all of the changes, but by following the new potential markets, we can help ourselves to accomplish our goals. Turkey, as one of the world's fastest growing economies, has improved its potential growth also in digital economy with almost half of its 78 million citizens now online.
One of the key factors of this growth is adapting quickly to new technologies. The adaptability brings more and more usage online, everyday. Other factor is the young, growing population whose attention to social networks is tremendous. Facebook is the main social network page that is used among Turkish fans. ”Turkish Investment Agency” notes 32 million users, which makes Turkey the seventh country in the world for the year 2012.
Social networks are not the only digital areas that are developing in Turkey but another huge fact is seen in the digitalization of the Fashion & Luxury Industry. Today, we see so many blogs and forums online, about fashion. It is rather obvious that bloggers are now seriously influential also in the world. However, in Turkey, because of this rapid adaptability, everything is getting consumed in a quicker way. Every day, we see more and more bloggers promoting the luxury brands and their styles. As being a Turkish myself, I can say that it is not so simple to choose the interesting ones among them.
This new emerging bloggers are distancing themselves from the traditional concept of blogging as an impartial activity, they're realizing there is money to be made through advertising, sponsored content and even in some cases as we see in the world, they are becoming the face of a brand but unfortunately, I haven't seen yet this kind of thing among the local bloggers. So, I believe what they lack is “branding”. Not just these fashion & luxury forums blogs but also the local labels have the same problem. In general, I see great Turkish design collections but it is hard to see their own character and identity. In order to have a more compatible figure with international brands, they need to have strong brand identification. For example, they can use some Turkish traditional aspects in their collections in order to be different.
Another reality online for Turkey is “e-commerce”! According to “Cem Sertoglu”, an investor for Grupanya, one of the biggest e-commerce platforms in the country, currently, “there is a big contrast between the usage of social networks and e-commerce. The usage for the latter is very low as compared to that of the former.” However, we should note that there is estimated a big change of this situation in the future because we have already started to see some signs such as the new local e-commerce websites: Grupanya, and the ones for online designer clothing; “Markafoni”, and “Trendyol” etc. After that, we started to see bigger changes in 2011. First, eBay acquired 93 percent of Turkey’s largest auction site, GittiGidiyor in a deal rumored to value the company at $215 million. Then South African media conglomerate Naspers acquired 70 percent of Markafoni, one of Turkey’s largest private shopping companies, in a deal valuing Markafoni at about $200 million, a value confirmed by my sources. Markafoni is also owner of Zizigo, the largest online shoe retailer in Turkey.
Markafoni has a target of middle-class consumers in Turkey, it is easy to find brands such as Eastpak, Miss Sixty, Oakley, Puma, Stefanel but also some luxury ones such as Givenchy, Roberto Cavalli, Fendi but the majority of brands are accessible brands. Speaking of accessible brands in this e-commerce category for Turkey, I believe “Trendyol” has more local brands such as Collezione, Ramsey, Twn, which are more accessible than the brands in “Markafoni”.
The set of circumstances is also changing for the luxury consumers for fashion. Once, they were prefering the upscale fashion retailers such as Beymen, Vakko and Harvey Nichols consisting of premium and luxury-accessible designer brands. Among these, Harvey Nichols is the only international one, Beymen and Vakko are local department stores having their own private label inside. But today, İstinyepark Mall is the new trend; the new shopping mall offers famous brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Prada, Celine and Fendi to the Turkish consumer domestically for the first time. Granted, these upscale retailers and İstinyepark Mall are filling an important void in Turkey.
Likewise Turkey, Middle East is also another unquestionably fascinating and continually evolving market which includes not only the countries bordering the Persian Gulf (Oman, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq and Iran), but also by extension, for economic purposes, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, constituting an important market for high-end goods, with a value of about € 4.1 billion (about 2% of the global luxury market). Most of the population considers shopping as an important social activity, and think that it is important to practice with friends, or sisters and mothers. Before making purchasing decisions they are inspired by friends and family. In addition, the new opening malls play a huge role in the social life of the people of the Middle East and are considered to be a club. Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Givenchy and Giorgio Armani are the well-known umbrella brands which they prefer to buy mostly. So, the trends for luxury consumption are similar with Turkey but the mentality is different. The Turkish consumer is more modern, open-minded and do not hesitate to try the new trends and search for personal style although in the Middle-East, the consumer is more attached to tradition and the women dress in a traditional way.
In conclusion, Turkey has become a great destination for global strategic investors in digital economy and luxury market but still the country needs to invest more in promoting its use of social media, e-commerce, blogs, forums and should give more importance to “branding”. Becoming a global player in this industry, will not occur without a big push. More efforts and emphasis on social platforms must be made. As a result of high consumption online, should launch a local social engagement website like Weibo in China; and, extensive work on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. In undertaking such global and regional media initiatives, there will be no doubt in Turkey’s rise within the Middle East market and particularly in the hearts and minds of the bigger and smarter investors!