Brands in the process of globalization have been forced to communicate with consumers in different cultures.
Advertising has always played a key role in the process.
A large part of the international brand managers are still spending long hours in order to find the most effective way to adopt the global communication to local cultures.
Turkey is considered as one of the most difficult countries in terms of localizing global communication.
ESOMAR in its "Country Cultures" (ESOMAR Global Cross-Industry Forum, Miami, December 2003) ranks Turkey as a "very cultural sensitive country”.
Is this the only difficulty with the Turkish market?
Even though the Turkish culture has a collective nature which also shares common values, there are still gaps between income groups. This means encountering consumer groups with radically different behavior in different regions of the country.
Heterogeneous consumer attitudes further complicate the tasks for the brand managers.
For these reasons, in the last 5 years two different typologies of international brand managers have emerged in Turkey:
One group claims that with the right insight, global standardization and local adaptation will work, while the other group claims that a global ad will never create maximum value in Turkey.
Pepsi and Vodafone are the most common examples used by the second group to support their thesis. These brands stand out as ones who have increased their efficiency the moment they rejected their global communication.
Interestingly, during the process, Pepsi and Vodafone became more Turkish than their local rivals.
Here are tips for successful adaptation in Turkey which FutureBright has obtained from its extensive in-depth market research.
1. FIRST DECIDE BETWEEN: "TEXTUAL INTERVENTION" AND "ICONOGRAPHIC INTERVENTION" OR BOTH
In order to discover which one will result with more effective results Semiotics should be consulted.
Semiotics is the science of symbols. It shows which symbols are used between the local culture and target group when they interact with each other.
“Signs”— being the most basic unit, point out what symbols should be used to make the concept of interest more Turkish.
2. CONSIDER THE BASIC CULTURAL CODES
Consider the basic cultural codes.
Turkish identity derives from the social system the individual belongs to.
This system is equal to the deep “context communication” culture. People deliver and trust messages heard from stories they share with each other. People in Turkey love stories.
Considering these cultural codes, you must select global adaptations which tell a story.
3. FOLLOW LOCAL TRENDS AND DERIVE LOCAL INSIGHTS
Continuously follow the current trends.
If you cannot, commission a social media agency to follow them for you.
For a more effective adaptation,focus on the trends that pertain to family, friends, love, and children.
The questions are the most basic ones:
What’s trendy today?
What videos are shared on Facebook?
What’s kicking on Tumblr?
4. BE HONEST
If you are trying to sell a product which is not included in the overall consumption patterns of Turkish people, do not pretend like it does.
Do not name a gray-haired German granny "Ayşe Nine" or a blue-eyed blonde doctor "Mehmet".
These actions won’t make your communication more local but only more ridiculous.
If the localization is not possible, you just do not adapt.
5. USE DIFFERENT COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS TO SHOW YOU UNDERSTAND THEIR VALUES
The Turkish consumer likes global brands but adores global brands that take into account their values.
When it is impossible to show that you understand Turkish values in 30-second commercials, while planning for localization, you should use the other elements of the 360 degrees marketing.
One of the more effective elements in Turkey is public relations.
One of the ways to convince consumers that you are Turkish is to convince the opinion leaders.
6. FIRST FORM A RELATIONSHIP THAN SELL
Forming a relationship with the consumer based on empathy, especially before selling, is imperative.
Therefore, in Turkey, the way you say something is more important than what you say.
First build a relationship and then create a sense of surprise.
If you have to adapt the global communication, you can use your local activations. Also the "pack shot" part of your communication is all yours as well.
7. DO NOT SELECT A SPOKESMAN BY THE POPULARITY INDEX
One of the most effective ways for adaptation is to use a local celebrity in Turkey.
However, international brands in Turkey still select the celebrities according to the index of popularity.
The popularity index is undoubtedly important, but the connection created by the celebrity has more significance.
8. AVOID BOOSTING INDIVIDUAL SELF AFFILIATION
Turkish society is a collective one.
There is no “I”, but there is “We”.
Therefore, the "self-realization" ads of the West are doomed to be ineffective in Turkey.
However, if it is not possible to talk collectively due to the nature of the product, try explaining the benefits of individual satisfaction in terms of the social group they belong to.
9. CURIOSITY IS NOT ENOUGH
In Western Europe, the credibility of TVs as a medium is not as high as it used to be.
Consumers often do not make purchasing decisions in front of the TV.
So instead of quick sale communication, brands prefer to create curiosity and leave the rest to the consumer.
However, this does not apply in Turkey.
TV as a media in Turkey still has the highest credibility.
Turkish consumers give their purchasing decisions in front of the TV.