Kent: Turkey on right track to produce global brands
Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan (R) and Coca Cola CEO Muhtar Kent pose during Thursday’s meeting on the state-initiated Turquality program. (Photo: AA)
Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent expressed the opinion on Thursday that Turkey is on the right path to enable the creation of global brands.
Speaking on international branding strategies at the sixth Turquality Vision Seminars hosted by the Ministry of Economy in İstanbul, Kent mentioned Turkey has been receiving more respect and attention in last four to five years and it creates a positive impression of the country in the world. “With the contribution of this impression, companies have the potential to use it towards the promotion of their brand,” he said adding, “interest in Turkey has increased so much in the last few years, something which I have not seen previously in my 30-year career, that when I meet people, they always ask me questions about Turkey.” Noting the importance of word of mouth, which is considered as one of the most efficient ways to spread information, he stated, “There are 30 million tourists coming to Turkey each year and if each of them says one good thing about Turkey to 10 other people, that would create huge potential and many areas in which to promote Turkish brands.”
The CEO gave examples such as Turkish Airlines, Beko, Vestel, Efes Pilsen and Mavi as Turkish brands known worldwide, saying: “Turkish televisions series are followed in many countries in the region, there are tourists and the Turkish cuisine is one of the most admired cuisines in the world. Interest in the country’s sports, music and literature has been increasing as well. This positivity should be transferred to business by fitting these brands into the lives of people.” Making suggestions about brands, he said: “I always say, a good brand is a promise kept. If a company wants to be sustainable, they need to gain their consumers loyalty by promoting common history and values and earn respect by keeping promises and satisfying the expectations of consumers.”
Kent explained the key to creating a positive image relies on moving from impression to expression and discussed the impact of social media in advertising. “We need to send our message to the people through combining music, young people and communication in an effective way. Nowadays at Coca-Cola, we allow for percentages of double digits in our budget for promotion through social media,” he said, and recommended that Turkish businessmen take advantage of social networking opportunities. He explained that in today’s world people share information very quickly through the Internet, which provides alternatives to people who are always looking to find something different or more variety. He commented: “Detailed market research is very much needed and must be very well understood in order to possess insights on marketing. Companies always must be one step ahead of customers’ expectations to be sustainable.”
Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan spoke to the participants about the Turquality platform, which has been implemented by the Ministry of Economy to provide support to firms producing products that have a competitive advantage and have the potential to become worldwide brands. The vision of the platform is to create 10 global brands in 10 years.
The minister noted that countries which have more global brands have higher returns on their exports and said: “Turkey exports a total of 90 million tons of goods each year and each kilogram is exported for $1.46. On the other hand, the countries that produce more brands, such as Germany and Japan, sell each kilogram of their exports for $4.1 and $3.5 respectively.” Praising Turkish businessmen for achieving incredible success in times of global economic slowdown, he concluded by saying, “We have the potential to grow more and go beyond our predictions by transforming, expanding and changing our goals.”
Meanwhile, Çağlayan also attended a ceremony on Wednesday to give out awards to exporters. During his speech at the event, he criticized the downgrade of Turkey’s rating by international credit agency Standard and Poor’s and called the agency “without standards.” He noted the downgrade as part of a game plan of a devious interest-rate lobby but emphasized: “Honestly, Turkey is no longer a country to be exploited by becoming a debtor. We don’t need to be borrowers.” He explained that by downgrading Turkey’s rating, the interest rate lobby aims to encourage Turkey to ask to borrow more money and go back the economic conditions of ten years ago but now Turkey is a country which has already planned for the next ten years and has a vision so their intentions will not succeed.