THE CULTURAL ROOTS OF RETAIL DEVELOPMENT IN TURKEY

09 May.2016

Yes, times are always changing.

Yes, retail is detail and math before anything else.

But, retail is about PEOPLE before anything else, and people are created/governed/covered by the society/geography they are born into. So, here is an attempt to outline the cultural roots of what is happening today in Turkey’s retail markets in a historical sociology perspective:

1. Turkey still continues to be the chief heir  of Eastern Rome. One may not find any reference to it in the current official expressions of national identity and policy, but the heritage of public organisation/administrative techniques  and ideals inherited by the Ottoman Empire continue in modified form and scale in modern Turkey.

2. The current scale and extent of measurable economic and social variables have been defined mainly after the Second World War, in two ways: (a) Post-war political climate and system has defined the “borders and colours” of domestic politics; (b) population increased 400%  and the share of urban settlements increased by 700 % since 1950.

3. Rules and procedures can be adopted and used by public administration only if and when short-term needs and objectives prove they are useful; not necessarily as defined by the ultimate science  of math and statistics.

The cultural roots defined above are shaping the retail industry in Turkey very closely and in a variety of ways. At this point, it may be useful to outline the most apparent shades of impact:

1. Statistics on retail real estate, sources of income, consumer profiles and  behaviour have not been classified, integrated and published regularly by the public authority on any meaningful scale. Private efforts are easily hampered by the vacuum at the core. Therefore international and scientific analyses are a tough job to undertake.

2. Nearly 55 % of retail expenditure is  “in the black books”. Coupled with the conditions defined above , forecasting and analytics becomes a “what if” game most of the time.

3. Measurement of consumer sentiment/behaviour/perception/expenditure presents a highly inconsistent picture of opportunity vs crisis, making medium and long term retail development plans a case of hypothesis rather than analytics.

Here is one hypothesis that can provide a  clue to the definition of the retail development issues in Turkey:

“During the past 3 decades, nearly four “generations” of consumers defined retail trends in the Turkish market ( therefore, definitions of generations X,Y,Z in USA are hardly relevant for Turkey) and the average “life-span” that dominates development of retail concepts and branding ( both in retail real estate and store chains) is 7-10 years.”

“The number of brands and concepts that are alive and running for more than 20 years, are probably only one-third of the attempted developments in those fields”

Final word: Math and statistics must overrule Rome.09 Mayıs 2016

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