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The empire strikes back: resilient Turkey rises again


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Long seen as a bridge between Asia and Europe, Turkey is itself bridging the gap between demographic potential and robust, resilient growth.

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The empire strikes back: resilient Turkey rises again

  1. 1. Intelligence Applied Emerging markets Share this Intelligence Applied Lying at the junction of Asia and Europe, the Republic of Turkey is seen by many as a bridge between two continents, fusing cultures and ethnicities. As the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey owes much of its modern identity to the House of Osman, one of the longest uninterrupted royal dynasties in history. Despite the demise of the Empire during WWI, its legacy lives on, breeding a country brimming with pride and nationalism. Today, Turkey’s population tops 76 million people, with a fifth of the nation residing in the commercial capital of Istanbul. In recent years, Turkey has emerged as an exciting investment prospect, with a growth rate earning it the ‘T’ in the acronym ‘MINT’. Together with Mexico, Indonesia and Nigeria, the Eurasian nation forms part of a group of emerging markets renowned for exceptional growth and favourable demographics. This title has been hard-won and over the past 20 years, Turkey has endured significant economic turbulence. The country suffered its first economic crash in 1994, followed by the biggest financial crisis in Turkey’s history in 2001, which saw the currency devalued by 50% in just one day and 120% over a year. Nevertheless, it clawed its way back to economic stability and saw sustained growth until the global economic crisis of 2008. Its remarkable resilience may in part be owed to the mobilisation of its population; economic tensions saw mass domestic migration throughout the 1990s, with people fleeing to urban markets in search of financial stability. As a result, today over 73 percent of the population live in urban dwellings compared to only 44 percent in the 1980s. This changing social context has driven a distinct change in consumer behaviour, forcing brands to adapt to survive. Discount stores have surged in popularity, with BIM leading the pack, followed by SOK and A101. Boasting over 4,000 stores, BIM pioneers the hard discount model, with a spartan layout, minimal staff and warehouse-like stores. Its explosive growth has caused many independent retailers to suffer, with pricing and convenience – not power brands - underpinning FMCG sales. The proliferation of discount stores has been coupled with a rise in mall shopping. In the early 1990s, prior to urbanisation, Turkey only had eight shopping malls. Fast forward 20 years and today the country boasts 367, many of which are deemed essential destinations for brands seeking success. The rise of mall shopping The empire strikes back: resilient Turkey rises again
  2. 2. Share this Intelligence Applied The empire strikes back: resilient Turkey rises again About the author Murat Demiral has been the Managing Director of TNS Turkey since August 2012. As one of the pioneers and leaders in the local research industry, TNS Turkey is part of the global TNS network with more than 90 employees. Email Murat at to find out more about TNS Turkey. About TNS TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and customer and employee relationships, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world. TNS is part of Kantar, the data investment management division of WPP and one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit for more information. is rooted in Turkey’s youthful population; over 40 percent of the country is aged 24 or less and the median age of the population is just below 30 – the youngest in Europe. To accommodate, developers are tapping into the needs of Turkish millennials, building malls where young people can congregate, socialise and shop. Telecomms providers are also satisfying the young population’s demand for connectivity. Mobile penetration is above 90 percent and 3G subscriptions surpassed 40 million in 2012, providing brands with distinct opportunities for targeted online advertising. Turkey has the 13th largest global online population, with people spending on average 2.7 hours online per day according to Connected Life 2014, a TNS study of over 55,000 internet users worldwide. As a result, the population has become increasingly familiar with international brands and trends, influenced via sites like Facebook, of which Turkey is the world’s fourth largest user. Women play an essential role in modern Turkey, having access to higher education and contributing towards households’ growing disposable income. The multifaceted role of women in the home and workplace requires a tailored approach from brands as many Turkish women have dramatically different needs to those of past generations. Brand owners that can relate to these rising young adult middle-class women have a higher chance of success in the marketplace. Despite Turkey’s position as one of the leading growth economies in the world, a shadow has been cast over this dynamic and thriving market. Political turbulence, corruption allegations and widespread public protests have dominated the headlines of the past year, gaining international publicity and temporarily denting confidence in this MINT market. Nonetheless, the outlook for the future remains optimistic, particularly when many home-grown multinationals such as durables powerhouse Arçelik/Beko or denim niche player Mavi Jeans are gaining strength on a global scale. A unique case in perspective is Turkish Airlines; the long-time silent and modest national carrier of the country became a respected global brand over the past 10 years. They blended aggressive route expansion with celebrity advertising (featuring famous faces from Kevin Costner to Kobe Bryant and Lionel Messi) and sports marketing (sponsoring FC Barcelona, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Euroleague Basketball ) to make a name for the brand at an international level. The country’s status as a former epicentre of an empire seems to run through its core, creating a nation able to adapt to social struggles and thrive in even the most challenging conditions, allowing it to push ahead and realise its emerging market potential. If you would like to talk to us about this report, please get in touch via or on Twitter @tns_global