Turkish Leather Industry's New Target: The US Market

Though Turkey produces well-designed and high-quality leather products, it hasn’t reached the desired market share in the USA yet. Leather Products Promotion Group is making an effort to increase this share.

The USA is the biggest market for imported leather products, with an expenditure of $27.9 billion and 23% of the world demand, according to end-of-2005 figures. According to global import figures, it has a share of 28% in shoes, 27% in leather clothing and saddlery and 7.9% in fur clothing. The annual clothing, shoe, and accessory per capita consumption is around $680.

Though Turkey is the sixth largest leather product supplier of the USA, it had only $51 million worth of sales, just 0.25% of the total $27.9 billion leather imports to the US in the year 2005. Though it produces well-designed and high-quality products, Turkey couldn’t reach the market share it desired. On the other hand, among the leather product markets to which Turkey exports, the US had 2% share.


Leather Products Promotion Group recently has started a series of project to open up new markets and to introduce Turkish leather to the world. The USA is among the target markets of leather producers. Leather Products Promotion Group talked to TURKOFAMERICA about their new projects.

What is the place of the Turkish leather industry in the world market and particularly in the US market? What are the statistical data concerning the last 5 years?

According to the export data, in terms of the US market, Turkey has no significant participation. In a $9 billion-market of leather clothing and saddlery, Turkey has only a $42 million share. Our exports in a $17.4 billion market is only $4 million. In the fur market, which is the only market in which the market share can be estimated, our share is only five per thousand.
What has been done so far to promote Turkish leather as a world brand and what is yet to be done? 

Leather Products Promotion Group (DTG) has been working actively since June 2005. The projects that DTG anticipates are carried out in three stages. The first stage is a promotion campaign addressing tourists. 13 billboards have been located in Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport International Flights Terminal and in the two international terminals of Antalya Airport. Billboard ads will be renewed in July 2006 and will remain for another year in the airports mentioned.

The second stage of DTG projects is to increase the daily use of leather products, to change the image that “leather products are expensive” and to increase the awareness about such products.  The “We are proud of our leather” campaign, that a number of famous and successful people support by wearing Turkish leather, started in December 2005.


The third and the most important stage of DTG projects is the promotion campaign abroad. As a result of a survey conducted among the companies, the USA was settled on as the primary target for leather clothing and Japan for leather shoes. We aim to increase the share of the whole leather industry in the world market, to carry out marketing and promotion activities, and to establish Turkish leather as a world brand through our promotion campaigns abroad.

What are the objectives and strategies determined for the American market?

The idea behind making a DTG web site is to reach purchasers all around the world. The site will primarily be introduced to the purchasers in the US at the “Turkish Leather Products Fair” that will take place in Grand Hyatt Hotel, New York from January 9-11 in 2007. Prior to the start of the fair, and during the fair, the famous American fashion magazines WWD and Footwear and California Apparel News will publish news releases.

What are the reasons for the decrease in the import of leather and leather products in the last 2 years?

In the recent years, particularly after 2002, the 45% value increase in Turkish currency has encouraged importing, while negatively influencing the competitiveness of export industries.

Another important problem of the Turkish leather export industry is the fact that Turkey was late in creating market variation. The strategy was focused mainly on the Soviet Union-CIS. It was thought unnecessary to seek alternative markets. In the last ten years, however, there occurred problems as the industry had become so dependent on these markets. The initiatives for entering new markets either were inconclusive or ended up with business agreements which could be carried out only with low profits.
In addition, the Turkish leather industry suffers from a lack of promotion and marketing. The potential and the quality of the industry are unknown to the world. Even in closer markets we haven’t created a Turkish leather image. This should be overcome with a powerful promotion campaign. 

What are the reasons for choosing the USA as the target market and New York as the target state?

In the survey that was carried out among the companies in Turkish leather industry, the leather processing companies and the importers of leather and fur clothing settled on the USA as the primary target market. The importers of leather shoe and saddlery, on the other hand, have determined the USA as the secondary target following Japan. Also New York is a city of fashion and trade and the success of the biannual “Turkish Textile Products Fair” in New York, which has been organized by İTKİB 10 times so far, is an important factor.


Leather Products Promotion Group (DTG) was established by the Istanbul Union of Leather and Leather Products Importers and Aegean Region Union of Leather and Leather Products Importers in coordination with the Undersecretariat of Foreign Trade, in order to accelerate the promotion of Turkish leather and leather products internationally, to establish a Turkish leather image around the world, and to create marketing strategies in current and future markets.

The mission that Leather Products Promotion Group undertook is to create a marketing and promotion strategy to accelerate the exports of Turkish leather products and shoes, to increase the market share all around the world, to create a Turkish leather image, and to organize Research and Development and promotion activities by realizing national and international promotion projects.

China  6,791,214   50
Italy  1,107,861   8   
Hong Kong 2,837,841   21
Brazil  965,872    7
Indonesia  472,210    3
Turkey   2,396    0
Others  1,471,399   11
Total  13,648,793   1000

• Turkey’s share is only $1.9 million in the $17.9 billion shoe import market of the USA.
• The primary shoe supplying country for the US is China, with a 70.9% share. Italy follows China with 6.4%. • The USA buys $2.1 billion in leather products from other countries but only $17.2 million from Turkey.
• The primary leather product supplier is again China with a share of 70.1%; Italy follows it with 6.3%.
• The USA imports $320 million in fur annually and Turkey provides $15.8 million of this amount. As for other products, the primary exporting country is China, with a 49.4% share.

(January 2007, 23rd Issue)

Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07