The first network marketing company started doing business in Turkey in 1992. Today, more than sixty local and international companies are doing business in this lively and growing market.
According to the Turkish Direct Selling Association, over 780,000 people are enrolled in at least one of its member companies, and network marketing in Turkey posted a remarkable 18 percent sales growth in 2011, despite the sluggish global economy.
At the annual U.S. DSA meeting in June 2012, Turkey was nominated as one of the newest members of the worldwide network marketing’s billion-dollar club, which consists of twenty-two countries whose sales volume exceeds $1 billion.
Here are ten important factors that pave the way for our continuing success in Turkey:
- Population Size: Already Europe’s third most populated country (after Russia and Germany), with a population of more than 75 million, Turkey is expected to overtake Germany by 2020, becoming Europe’s second most populated country. This will continue to drive the country’s economic growth. In addition, 3 million Turks live in other European countries, representing a huge opportunity for international recruiting.
- Population Age: Turkey has the youngest population in Western Europe, with a median age of twenty-nine and 27 percent of its people below age fifteen. As a comparison, this age group represents just 20 percent of the population in the U.S., 17 percent in the U.K., and only 13 percent in Germany. This indicates that the demand for goods and services, as well as the demand for job opportunities, will grow exponentially in the future.
- Urbanization: Three-quarters of Turkey’s residents live in cities; only one-third lives outside the metropolitan areas. Istanbul, the country’s economic and cultural heart, is more populated than some European countries, such as Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Hungary, Sweden, Bulgaria, and Norway. These factors facilitate starting new companies, reaching consumers and prospective direct sellers, and also distributing products.
- Unemployment: The higher a country’s unemployment rate, the more individuals will be in active search for income opportunities. Turkey’s national unemployment rate is 10 percent of the total urban population. The rate of unemployment among females and youths is twice as high.
- Part-Time Jobs: The Turkish economy has historically offered very few part-time jobs to the labor market. This is ironic for a low-income country and represents a gap waiting to be filled by network marketing and direct selling companies.
- Means of Distribution: With its wide and well-maintained network of roads and relatively inexpensive but efficient courier companies, Turkey offers a favorable platform for distribution. Over time, these companies have learned to adapt to the unique requirements of the network marketing business sector. For instance, as a response to the needs of those who are hesitant to supply credit card information, courier companies now also provide collection services.
- Telecommunications: Turkey’s telecommunication infrastructure compares to those of the most developed countries, and new technological advancements are quickly adopted. There are more than 30 million Internet users and the mobile phone penetration exceeds 90 percent. Turkey has the seventh largest population on Facebook.
- Banking: Going hand in hand with telecommunications, the Turkish banking system has also been quite advanced and widespread, with 33,000 ATMs throughout the country, enabling instant money transfers and instant access to the transferred amounts. There are over 52 million credit cards in use here.
- Taxation of Direct Sellers: Direct sellers are exempt from income taxes on their retail profits and pay a fixed percentage of withholding tax on their bonuses through the companies they are affiliated with.
- Socio-Cultural Environment: In general, Turks are born networkers and have a strong entrepreneurial spirit. Any social gathering easily turns into a one-on-one opportunity presentation and sometimes even into a meeting! This greatly facilitates building business partnerships.
As of today, Turkey ranks seventeenth in the world in both population and the size of its economy. However, looking at its network marketing and direct selling volume, Turkey is not among the top twenty. Moreover, the number of direct sellers per 1,000 people is 10 in Turkey, compared to 50 in the U.S., 36 in Russia, and 21 in Japan.
As with any international venture, expanding your business into Turkey will not be without challenges. You may experience difficulties in communicating with prospects in your own language, even if it is English. Also, men may have an especially hard time when reaching out to women in the more conservative areas. If the company you are representing is not widespread or well known internationally, you are more likely to encounter suspicion and may need to overcome skepticism in the minds of your prospects.
Taking all this into consideration, wouldn’t you put Turkey on the map for your next international expansion?
HAKKI OZMORALI served various network marketing
companies as country manager and
regional manager in Turkey and Canada.
He now provides consulting services
and publishes the popular weekly newsletter,
The World of Direct Selling.