The effect of ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl’ on ceramic sector
According to the general manager of the Copyrights Department at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Abdurrahman Çelik, Ph.D., the number of countries we are exporting television serials to has reached 76. Annual income in 2012 from soap opera exports is expected to reach $90 million.
Especially “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” (The Magnificent Century), the one that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has harshly criticized saying, “We have no such ancestry,” has actually become a phenomenon abroad.
According to information provided by Dr. Çelik, “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” is being watched by 150 million people in the Middle East, the Balkans and Central Asian republics.
“Muhteşem Yüzyıl” has also inspired several sectors in Turkey, primarily the jewelry sector – Hürrem Sultan’s ring sold more than 1 million copies last year.
I learned about the effect of “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” on this sector in an interview I held the other day with the marketing manager of Kaleseramik İhsan Karagöz. Kaleseramik is the biggest company in the market with its 28 percent share and contains brands such as Kalebodur, Çanakkale Seramik and Kale.
Karagöz said they had noticed that with the “Muhteşem Yüzyıl” trend, people wanted to see Ottoman decorative elements in their homes.
“When we noticed this we sent our designers to Topkapı Palace. Then the ‘Saraylı’ [From the Palace] Collection for bathrooms was born with designs inspired by several decorative items and motifs in the palace,” he explained.
The “Saraylı” Collection, which was released on the market in a wide spectrum from floor and wall tiles to bathroom furniture and accessories, has “exploded the sales” in the first four months as İhsan Karagöz puts it.
“We were not expecting this much,” Karagöz said. “Interestingly we were initially planning to name the collection ‘Harem.’ However, in our consumer surveys, we found out that women in our country were against the word ‘harem.’”
Among the countries Kaleseramik exports to, Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia demand the Saraylı Collection the most. The company sells 20 percent of its exports to Europe.
Kale Group, which Kaleseramik belongs to, bought last year the 45-year-old firm Fincuoghi. It produces tiles in the Sassuolo region, considered the ceramics base of Italy. This way, Kaleseramik has become the first foreign company buying an Italian firm in the ceramic sector, thus obtaining the advantage of moving closer to the European market.
According to İhsan Karagöz, Turkey has an important position in ceramic exports. It ranks fourth after China, Italy and Spain.
Kaleseramik accounts for 15 percent of Turkey’s ceramic exports. It has showrooms in Arbil, Beirut and Tbilisi, and it is planning to open new ones also in Baghdad and Hong Kong. For 2013, it aims to increase its market share of 28 percent in Turkey to 35 percent.
When I asked how they would be able to meet this target, Karagöz answered, “We are conducting comprehensive and sophisticated consumer surveys. We are constantly measuring consumer demands. As a matter of fact, the effect of ‘Muhteşem Yüzyıl’ came up as such.”
Another strategy Kaleseramik has adopted is to work closely with architects.
Actually, my interview with Karagöz was possible through a meeting they had organized titled, “Architects are talking.”
I have a high opinion of Kaleseramik’s undertaking the role of becoming the bridge between architects and society in an environment where the housing stocks of Turkey are being debated more because of urban transformation and where new architectural projects are discussed more, such as the planned mosque for Çamlıca Hill and a mall in place of the only green area in Taksim.