Turkish Brands Born of German Giants PDF Print E-mail
2007-10-15 16:26:29
Germany - The population of nearly 3 million Turks that live in Germany has raised the interest of German firms that are interested in the possibilities of the ethnically-based market. E-Plus, an important company in the German mobile communications market, is currently offering Turks economic rates for both domestic calls within Germany and international calls with Turkey under the banner of its project Ay Yıldız (Crescent and Star). Deutsche Bank's “Bankamız”, or “Our Bank” project is breaking new ground in terms of providing banking services in Turkish.

TURKOFAMERICA examined closer the inter-cultural marketing projects of the German giant companies such as Crescent and Star and Our Bank, both headed up by Turkish managers.


Founded in 1870 in Berlin and boasting assets of 1.1 trillion Euro, Deutsche Bank retains its status as a leader in Germany and Europe and employs 73,000 people working in 75 different countries.

Ergün Akinci, Ulrich Christmann (Chairman), and Dr. Patrik Pohl(GM)

The economic turnover of the Turkish population in Germany is thought to number 55 billion Euro. This situation has allowed a previously untenable project on the part of Deutsche Bank to be realized. The bank has recently formed a 60-person team under the heading of “ Bankamız” (“Our Bank”), to provide all banking services in Turkish. Our Bank services are currently operable in 30 branches and have gained 8,000 new customers in just 13 months.

According to findings by the Association of German Banks, in late 2004 there were 2,400 banks in operation in Germany. The number of foreign banks providing services numbered 671. There are currently nearly 80 branches of Turkish banks such as Akbank, Demir-Halk Bank, Denizbank, Garanti Bank, Işbank, Vakıfbank, Yapı Kredi and Ziraat Banks.

The Our Bank project only came about as a result of the efforts of one Ergün Akıncı, a long-time employee of Deutsche Bank. Having presented the idea to the banking management roughly three years ago, he managed to convince them of the idea only after several thorough evaluations. Our Bank started its branch work in January and now provides all banking services to people in Turkish, an innovation that takes into account the economic power of Turks living in Germany. Deutsche Bank is known around the world for its conservative structure, thus the introduction of a program with a Turkish name and providing Turkish services is seen as a small revolution in and of itself. The pioneer of this revolution, Ergün Akıncı, answered TURKOFAMERICA's queries.
When was the Our Bank project first developed?
We took the first steps about three years ago. The amazing way in which Turkish staff members of Deutsche Bank were able to attract new customers did not escape the attention of upper management. These employees' practices were watched for a long time and later this project came about. As a team, we are doing as much as we can to ensure success for this project.

Didn't some look upon this project with suspicion since there are already so many Turkish banks working in Europe?
No! Quite the opposite, the Deutsche Bank organization gave its full support and continues to do so to this day.

How will you provide more advantageous services for customers than other Turkish banks working in Europe?
Deutsche Bank is Germany's largest private bank. At the same time, it is a prestigious and trustworthy bank. This service that we offer is not only for privately educated, bilingual expert consultants. Every customer with an account at our bank can send money to Turkey up to 5 times a year for free. We also have printed out brochures in both languages. Moreover, we offer 7,000 Deutsche Bank ATM's with Turkish as a language option on the menu and Turkish telephone services. Another one of our services consists of offering special gifts that will attract potential clients to Deutsche Bank. For example, we give away the jerseys of Turkey's four great teams, namely Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor.

Can you talk about the time and effort you spent in convincing a giant of the industry like Deutsche Bank to undertake banking based on ethnicity?
I have been working at Deutsche Bank for a long time. With this opportunity I was able to gain a lot of experience into the aspect of service to Turkish customers. The Turkish population is now a power in modern-day Germany, in terms of numbers, politics, and economics. Deutsche Bank saw this, and by taking advantage of our experiences, we realized the Our Bank project together. By customizing service to Turks, both Deutsche Bank and the Turks come out on top. Not only is this project a hugely positive gesture to the Turkish community, but it has also increased its prestige with that same population. This has also brought a different perspective to the debate in Germany over integration because a person's economic success enables a more general fluid process of integration.

How many people will Our Bank provide with employment?
There are already many employees of Turkish descent working at Deutsche Bank. In Our Bank in the past two years, we hired more than 60 new expert consultants in our 30 branches.

Will this encourage other German banks to gain interest in the ethnic market?
It has already. Some other German banks have taken our method as an example and are implementing similar programs. This of course is advantageous for Turkish consumers because as competition increases, so will the quality of the service offered. In addition, staff of Turkish origin have been able to solidify their position as part of a team at banks that may be worried about losing talent to other banks.

What will the Turkish population gain?
A giant bank in Germany that offers “Turkish” service is a big deal for Turks living there. This is a sign that Germany values the Turks living there. In this way it is an investment into the integration process.

Could you mention the goals that you want to reach with Our Bank? The size of your assets, number of bank deposits, and number of customers?
We started this service in 13 “pilot” branches in various regions of German with 30 employees of Turkish descent. We are currently have more than 60 people working with us on this in 30 different branches. Moreover, not only did we bring in 2000 new customers but within the past four months we increased that number fourfold and attracted more than 6000 new customers.


E-Plus is Germany's third largest mobile communications operator. It is the first, among competitors such as T-Mobile, Vodafone, and O2, to fully realize the potential of the Turkish market and invest time and money into the ethnic market. Since 2002 it has functioned together with the telecommunications operator KNP and in addition to Crescent and Star has brands named Base and Viva.

Turks living in Germany first met the Crescent and Star project in October 2005. Selahattin Erturul, the general manager of Crescent and Star, stated that the first two years were mainly spent introducing the service to Turks living in Germany as a communications brand. Erturul indicates that that work is beginning to pay off, “If we compare Crescent and Star to an airplane, we can say that it has attained the needed speed and has now lifted off.” The young General Manager answered our questions as follows:

Selahattin Erturul, the Managing Directors of Ay Yildiz International.

What were the important factors in introducing and spreading the use of Crescent and Star?
The most important point in developing a product is to come up with tariffs that are suitable to the needs of our customers. These tariffs must be transparent and easy to understand. At the same time, the marketing must take into account our key target audience's customs and traditions and must then utilize their emotional language to appeal to them. These are the main factors as to why Crescent and Star has attained such success in such a short amount of time.

German Telecom was privatized in 1998 and since then many Turkish firms have owned lines that provide services to users. Crescent and Star entered the market after 10 years. Is it preferred only because there is the strong brand of E-plus behind it?
Starting with the privatization of German Telecom in 1998, the opening of the market led to a huge competitive push between land-line companies and a subsequent decrease in prices. The decrease in cell phone rates happened later. Currently there is intense competition between players in the German cell phone market. Many firms that are offering cheap service to countries like Kenya or Russia are also trying to drive down prices in Turkey in order to attract new customers. However, Crescent and Star's trade model is not like that! Crescent and Star is aimed only at Turks and Germans of Turkish descent living in Germany. This is a service that has been developed within the model of ensuring low rates for a population that wishes to speak both within Germany and with Turkey. This is why our model is so widely preferred. Of course having E-Plus behind us is also an important factor.

Do you think the success of Crescent and Star will lead to other large firms increasing their investment in ethnic markets?
Aside from offering a specialized product and service within its own sector in Germany, Crescent and Star has also reached a milestone in terms of inter-cultural marketing. Using the Crescent and Star model, many German firms have started developing products geared towards the Turkish community by using a language that will appeal to their particular cultural background. Our biggest success is namely the title of “First and Foremost” that has been attached to us. We believe that people will begin to use the Crescent and Star example to offer the Turkish community with inter-cultural marketing, thus there will be a large increase in not only the German but also international firms that will be involved.

How many people do you currently employ and what are your plans for the future?
Within the sales team of Crescent and Star's Frankfurt headquarters, a group of German-educated, experienced, and bilingual 30 young people work together in a dynamic team. Our biggest goal relating to the future is to always be by the side of our people that live in Germany. By developing goods that are based on their type of communication, we hope to offer them conditions that ensure they comfortably make calls to Turkey and within Germany.

In the US, projects geared towards the ethnic community take up a large part of the market share. Is it possible to tell us the place of the ethnic market in the telecoms sector in Germany?
The US, in terms of multi-cultural marketing, is really a standard-bearer for the whole world. Although the mass immigration to Germany first began 40 years ago, only now is the topic gaining ground there. No economy can afford to ignore the buying power of a group like the Turkish population in Germany, which maintains an amount topping 18 billion Euro.

Selahattin Erturul (40) took over the position of the Managing Directors of Ay Yildiz international last August. At the same time he replaced Dogan Calmaz, which acted over two years as a managing director of the company.

Selahattin Erturul was born 1967 in Sinop in Turkey. During the first nine years of his vocational career the engineering graduate of the information technology in the IT-industry worked, he created and led different IT-enterprises in Germany and Turkey. In the following years he held different leading selling and leading positions in the telecommunications industry. (October 2007, Issue 26th)







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