Are you ready to “change the game”?

November 22, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

This week, I’m hosting a 4-day festival of “Gamechangers” in Istanbul. From Monday to Thursday 1-4 December, we’ll be celebrating the launch of my new book, exploring the big themes, and finding Turkey’s most disruptive companies.

I’ve been working with Turkish companies for the last 10 years. Over the last decade I have chaired the MCT Marketing and HR Summits with around 2500 people almost every year, and have worked as an expert consultant to the business leaders of many Turkish companies including Arcelik, Eczacibasi, Pinar, Turkcell and Yapi Kredi Bankasi.  Projects have included new business strategies, portfolio analysis, marketing programs, innovation processes, retail design and new product development – as well as executive development and CEO coaching.

During that time I have seen huge change in the Turkish consumer, and economy, but also the ambition and mindset of business people. In the past Turkish companies only saw the home market as their ambition, to be slightly different or better. They lacked creative skills such as design and innovation, and so licensed products from international brands. Now these brands are here competing against them. But Turkish business has acquired the skills to compete on a global stage. What they need now is the ambition to think globally. Look at the recent acquisitions by Yildiz Group of Godiva and United Biscuits for example. This gives Turkey a new platform to think bigger, think smarter, and to accelerate growth.

Examples of Turkish companies who are “changing the game” include

– ISKO, the Sanko company has become the world’s largest denim manufacturer – but its focus is on innovative, technology-enabled fabrics that add value to the world’s premium brands. As a result ISKO wants to become a leading “ingredient brand” like Intel or Lycra. Shopping in Santa Monica I found ISKO brand tags on some of the coolest jeans in the world!

– Ininal, the pre-payment credit card addresses the huge market of people who don’t have bank accounts or payment cards, but want to transact in a digital world. In many aspects of digital technologies, mobile phones and banking tech, Turkey has become a creative lab to experiment and develop new ideas because of its youthful and highly techno-literate market.

– Trendyol, the fashion retail that delivers to your home, going beyond the typical e-tailer to really understand the needs of local and individual consumers, and to tailor a premium service to people locally. Trendyol recognises that it has global competitors – people can buy anything from anywhere, and so have to make their local presence more meaningful in a digital world

– Vodafone, the Turkish Farmers Club was admired worldwide, as a fantastic way in which a large brand could create a relevant, local community, that really helped farmers to live better lives, and Vodafone to be more successful. The Turkish team was seen by Vodafone globally as the team to learn from

– Yeni Raki, even classic “old” brands can change the game. When Mey took Yeni Raki to international audiences, they recognised that there was a whole Turkish culture around drinking raki, and that this could be a truly distinctive experience on which to build the brand, rather than just placing it as a funky bottle next to every other brand of alcohol

There are potentially many more. That’s why I have created a national competition “Gamechangers Turkey” which seeks to find the most disruptively innovative companies. There will be winners in each of 10 categories, an “Oscars-style” awards ceremony, and a global showcase to show the world what Turkey can do!

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