By Janet Ekstract
It is widely known that the textile business encompasses a vast array of sectors - from towels to blue jeans. What is even more heartening is that there is limitless potential for Turkish business people who want to create their niche in the U.S. textile market.
The textile and apparel industries in Turkey represent two of the most successful areas of export in the Turkish economy. With 10% of GNP and 26% of total exports in this sector, which comprises 20% of the employment force in Turkey, according to a recent report by Bharat Textile News.
And, according to two U.S. players in the textile field, Turks are way ahead of the game in many areas.
Eric Stambler, senior vice president and partner in the global consulting firm PRI that specializes in project development - says Turkish business people are already very successful in the production part of the textile business, very reliable and deliver a great product. Jeffrey Silberman, chairman of the Textile Development and Marketing Department at The Fashion Institute of Technology, also agrees with that assessment.
The issue, both men say, is one of creating better marketing strategies and expanding them, as well as developing a precise global brand.
Silberman also agrees that Turkish business people need to pay more attention to branding and marketing strategy. As the current executive director of the International Forum For Cotton Promotion (IFCP), Silberman is in a unique position to know exactly what steps create success for Turkish business people in the U.S. textile market.
The other voice of experience in the U.S. textile market - Stambler, whose firm specializes in advising clients in emerging markets, has worked extensively with textile companies. His firm provides strategic advice, partnership advice and consultation about how to get products into the U.S. textile market. This includes a number of global clients – specifically Turkish business people in the global textile market.
Both men echoe the same sentiment - that without beginning at the beginning - a potentially successful textile business is likely to get lost in the marketplace. This means that one of the first steps any Turkish business person desiring success in the U.S. textile market needs to do - is research. Silberman said, “even if you have to hire someone to do it for you, it’s better than not knowing your market thoroughly.”
Stambler agrees, “we’ve seen people fly over from Turkey to the U.S. expecting to drop in on some Amercian CEOs without having done the proper background research.” He says this leads to the illusion that things work the same way here as they do over there. Actually, he points out, nothing could be further from the truth.
One of the major problems Turkish business people face is a lack of preparation and a lack of understanding and knowledge about marketing to a U.S. consumer-based marketplace, Silberman explained. Both also say that a lack of definitive branding has been the one area Turkish business people need to enhance.
HONING A BRANDING STRATEGY IN THE U.S. TEXTILE MARKET
In this respect, hiring consultants can be extremely beneficial to assist in the branding and business development aspect. Another idea would be to talk to those who have gone before you and find out how they did it – what specific steps did they take in the branding process.
Both Stambler and Silberman can’t stress enough, the value of networking at every available opportunity. This is a major factor in growing one’s business and learning about new opportunities as well as a way to create expansion in the marketplace for your particular textile product.
Silberman adds, “The main question for Turkish business people who want to be successful in the U.S. textile field, is how do you function in a consumer market?” This is crucial, he says because Turkey is a producers market and the U.S. is a consumer market. What doesn’t seem to work, Silberman said is “parachuting into New York expecting to leave with a handful of orders.”
Flexibility and change are two necessities that both Silberman and Stambler repeatedly emphasize. In order to be truly successful in this market, Silberman explains that you have to figure out what the retailers are doing. That’s where the research comes in and both maintain – on a regular basis.
TOP 10 TIPS FOR SUCCESS IN THE MARKET
- Compliance and Sustainability – Good Business Practices
- Demonstrate the Benefit your product brings to the market
- Prove Financial Credibility and Business Longevity
- Possess Credible Business and Personal References
- Design, Delivery and Price Must Fit Marketplace Standard
- Thorough, Detailed Research of the Marketplace
- Precise and Definitive Global Branding Strategy
- Excellent Marketing Plan
- Top Quality Power Point Documentation in English for Business Plans
- Networking, Networking, Networking
One more essential factor for success in this market, they explain is to know the demographics, which means know your target market. For example, if your product is jeans – what age group are you creating for and based on knowledge of the specific market – what need does your brand of jeans fulfill in this particular market.
The sage advice from Stambler is: “Create a brand if you want to be successful in the U.S. textile market because what you find now are great Turkish companies that are contract producing for U.S. brands.”
He adds, “Mavi is the only company who has done it right, created a brand identity.”
He also can’t emphasize enough the need to have a sophisticated approach to the U.S. market. Stambler backs the idea of product development and focus groups, so business people see what’s in the market and see how their current production fits into this market. Adding, “you have to see what you can develop that would be interesting to the market – test market to get people’s reaction to your product.” Most crucial he explains, “Supply a need to the marketplace and speak to the need, create the need.”
When asked how long it takes for Turkish business people to truly become successful in the U.S. textile market – Silberman says “expect to be in it for the long haul.” Success, he explains is defined differently by different people. Yet, he points out that you have to understand competitive strategy and cautions against “change for the sake of change.” He adds: “Don’t do anything without knowing what you’re doing and how.”
Does he think luck plays a factor in this business? Absolutely he said, “There is an element of luck in everything.”
(January 2007, 23rd Issue)