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5.2 The Turkish consumer profile

Expanding higher-income class

The higher-income class has expanded along with the country’s improving economy in recent years, boding well for the purchasing power of the Turkish market. This is exemplified by the fact that the proportion of households having an annual disposable income of US$25,000-35,000 increased to 15.5% of the total in 2009, compared to only 9.5% in 2004. To cash in on the rising purchasing power in Turkey, many foreign chains such as Carrefour, Metro and Tesco (grocery), Zara and Nine West (fashion), Media Markt and Saturn (consumer electronics) and B&Q and IKEA (DIY and home furnishing) have an increasing presence in major Turkish cities. Hong Kong’s A.S. Watson (a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Limited), has also had a presence in Turkey since 2005, engaging in the retailing of health and beauty products in order to reap the emerging opportunities from rising incomes in the country.

Average gross income in Turkey

Source: Euromonitor

Structure of household consumption expenditure, 2009

Source: TurkStat

Young people are the major purchasers

While the median age of the Turkish population is below 29, more than one-quarter of the inhabitants in the country are aged 14 or below, leading to a higher demand for children’s toys and child-care articles. Meanwhile, those aged 65 and above account for 7% of the population, and about two-thirds of the population is aged between 15 and 64. While the income of the working class, especially young professionals, has increased along with the growth of the business sector in the past few years, youngsters’ purchasing power, backed by improvements in their parents’ incomes, has also risen. This young consumer group, which has a strong preference for Western-style products and fashionable goods, has become a major purchaser in the market, and hence are the targeted customers of most consumer goods companies.

Turkey's population distribution, 2009

Source: Trukstat

Larger household size

Turks prefer a larger family than their European counterparts, leading the country to have the highest proportion of households (i.e. 20% according to OECD Family Database) with three or more children across EU and OECD economies. The larger household size has also resulted in consumers preferring economy- or family-size items when buying household items. Also, demand for child-care products is potentially larger than that in Western Europe. But the higher number of children, coupled with their lower incomes, has prompted them to purchase cheaper toy sets, educational products and clothes for their children.

Mature brand culture

Unlike many other emerging markets, there is a mature brand culture among Turkish consumers. Turks, especially those residing in major cities, generally have a good knowledge of both local and reputable foreign brands. Although this does not necessarily mean that Turkish consumers always buy branded products (especially in light of their relatively low incomes), they largely acknowledge that a good brand, rather than a mere trademark, represents quality, offers a warranty and has after-sales services. Therefore, branded products usually enjoy a premium in the market. Even for goods originating from the Chinese mainland, branded goods are well received by consumers.

As for non-branded products, however, consumers will focus on the country of origin. Unfortunately, non-branded products originating from China usually have a poor reputation among Turkish consumers in terms of quality and reliability, and such products are usually meant for the low-end market.

Average retail prices of selected consumer goods in Turkey


Price (in €)

Men’s suit – per piece


Men’s jeans – per piece


Men’s shirt – per piece


Ladies’ jeans – per piece


Ladies’ skirt – per piece


Children’s jeans – per piece


Children’s long-sleeved T-shirt


Men’s classic lace-up – per pair


Ladies’ conventional court shoes – per pair


Children’s sport shoes – per pair


Automatic washing machine (for 4.5 - 5 kg) – per piece


Electric refrigerator with freezer – per piece


Electric vacuum cleaner – per piece


LCD TV set – per piece


DVD player – per piece


Source: Eurostat consumer prices research (mid-2008 prices)

Some differences from Western Europe

Consumer purchases are also affected by the state of economic development. One typical example is that computer usage in the country remains at a low level, and traditional toys remain more popular than computer games. Rather, television is regarded as a basic, popular entertainment. There is thus a strong demand for a better television set, when Turks have their salary increased. Against this background, video games account for a relatively small portion of the toys and games market (i.e. about 30% in 2009), although sales of video games are rising steadily. Despite appearances to the contrary, Japanese films have some influence in the consumer market, as Turkey’s children and youngsters enjoy watching Japanese TV cartoon programmes. So-called “Japanese electronics and toys shops” have been among the most visited toy outlets.

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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