The recent turmoil that swept over Turkish political landscape had, and continues to have, significant consequences for business. For the third time in 10 years, since Turkish Statistical Institute’s tracking started, consumer confidence index (CCI) in Turkey dropped below 70. CCI measures how optimistic or pessimistic consumers are with respect to the economy in the near future. Scores above 100 indicate optimism, which is something that business people like. Optimistic consumers tend to purchase more goods and services. It is assumed that increase in spending will inevitably stimulate the whole economy. Scores lower than 80 are indicative of significant pessimism. Such low scores mean that consumers do not feel secure about having a job, enough discretionary income, business growth and overall welfare.

For all practical purposes, the current situation is a crisis although it is not officially declared as such. Now it is the perfect time to look back and learn from similar periods in the past when consumer confidence was at the bottom. After all, in a developing country like Turkey, significant fluctuations in the economy are common occurrence. For example, Turkey went through a big financial crisis in 2001. Turkish Lira was devalued against USD by 28% overnight. The crisis stemmed from internal political dynamics rather than external disruptions. Nükhet Vardar, a leading academician and practitioner of marketing in Turkey, studied ten brands which were able to grow their business during these turbulent times. She compiled a set of valuable learnings in her book titled “Some More Courage: Story of 10 Successful Brands in the Crisis”. Although each brand had its unique journey to success, they all shared the same counter-intuitive business strategy: invest in marketing while going through the storm. This is in contrast to a more common approach to cut back on expenses and to treat marketing as a “luxury” during uncertain times.

Possibly the best summary of the nature of such investments came from Steve Cannon, VP of Marketing at Mercedes Benz: “Just spend smarter not harder”. Mercedes Benz is one of the few companies that thrived during the recession that started in 2008. By consistently investing in its brand, Mercedes Benz was able to grow its sales 15% in 2009. “The recession has been good for us”, says Cannon. “The process of branding should not magically stop during a downturn. Customers and prospects are still forming opinions and gathering experiences whether you’re proactively managing your brand or not.” he adds. The key is to identify and focus on what is important in terms of target market and key message.

Brands need to focus in order to make the best out of every marketing dollar. This is even more critical in turbulent times. Each unit of resource, whether financial or human, has to be invested with maximum efficiency and effectiveness in mind. Taking the right decision as to which consumer groups to target and how to reach those groups with the most relevant messages and marketing initiatives becomes a top priority. At TRENDDESK, we have developed a step-by-step process to help management teams with this decision. The process is called “I.D.E.A.S.” and it brings together qualitative and quantitative marketing research, future trends, ideation and design thinking. By drawing on a rich skill and tool set, I.D.E.A.S. goes beyond conventional segmentation research. It results in a segment-based marketing plan and a toolkit that facilitate focused marketing thinking applied to the entire system (marketing team, sales force and distributors, creative and media agencies, etc.). More information can be found here. Please contact TRENDDESK for inquiries.

It’s time to do more with less!