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Globalization with a twist.   


Some people travel to far away, exotic countries in order to get away from the similarity of “Western” commercial culture with most brands nowadays available everywhere.

Others need to find familiar shops and goods at their destination in order to feel comfortable. Over the last ten years many global brands have come to Turkey and have been accepted by the majority of urban population – as long as they adapted to the Turkish marketplace.

The same goes for foreign business and private culture – it’s globalization with a twist.


Most obvious to the visitor is the commercial globalization with pretty much all famous World brands nowadays available. Let’s start with IKEA, who entered Turkey two years ago (2006). They are probably the best example for a “least adapted” brand, the only difference being that the hot dogs offered in the snack bar are of course not made of pork, in a country with a 99% Muslim majority. But, unlike Pizza Hut, Domino’s and Little Caesar they don’t have any special Turkish food on the menu. The aforementioned pizza chains offer local adaptations containing “sucuk” (a spicy Turkish sausage), “pastirma” (air dried meat in a layer of spices) and local white cheese. Mc Donalds’ menu features “Kofteburger”, the famous Turkish meatball inside the infamous bread roll accompanied by “Ayran”, a traditional Turkish yoghurt drink.

It seems as if every major brand has realized they can only attract the Turkish client if they cater for them to a certain extent. Many Turks, however, with increasing disposable income spent on travelling, have met these foreign brands abroad and embraced them as soon as they arrived in Turkey. Marks & Spencer, Schlotzky’s, Starbucks, Burger King, Haagen-Daz, Ben & Jerry and such like belong to the much-frequented venues for a family on a Saturday shopping trip, but they only score over the traditional Turkish equivalents with the younger and more affluent generation.

The general population is obsessed with the latest technology, especially when it comes to mobile phones and wide screen TVs. New products in these sectors are available almost immediately after release and are snapped up by a hungry crowd – many of which sacrifice expenses on food and clothing for the latest gadget.

There has also been a silent, but somewhat watered-down globalization in the banking and media sector due to Turkish commercial law, which only allows a foreign business to enter the local market with a Turkish partner. A good example here is Fox TV, which took over a Turkish media outlet and together with a Turkish partner now broadcasts a mix of foreign films and Turkish soap-operas and game shows.

Of course the biggest impact in globalization came from the Internet. Although officially only 16% of Turkish households are connected to the World Wide Web, a large number of Turkish citizens which is about 21 million people, surf the net on a daily basis from their workplace or Internet cafes. Turks also form the third-biggest community on Facebook, after the US and Canada. This all has lead to one part of society being a lot more connected, mainly the young in large cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir. The downside of this greater exposure to the web is the censorship applied by the Turkish government with sites such as YouTube being blocked frequently due to content that does not comply with the ideology of the state.

The entertainment sector has not seen this level of globalization with most Turks at all age levels still listening predominantly to Turkish music while in other European countries like Italy, France and Germany local music has clearly lost out long ago to the British and American pop stars. Apparently this is due to the fact that Turks feel a need to understand the lyrics of songs and have of course a completely different music history background.

Globalization the other way

Others prefer foreign brands due to the fact that some goods still aren’t produced locally or with the necessary quality, cars being the best example here. However, Turkish industry has caught up in many aspects over the last 15 years and big names like Vestel, Beko, Mavi Jeans have successfully brought Turkish made products on the World market. This also implies that parts of Turkish industry have introduced quality standards and a globalized company culture.

However, globalization hasn’t reached all corners of Turkey and probably never will. This country is simply too large, too diverse to ensure an even spread of the latest technology, methodology and ideas. Hence many remote areas of Turkey have maintained strong traditions and habits and maybe that’s a good thing.

  Globalization in TURKEY  
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