Updates from IBD Turkey – Team Indofood

FTMBA students Chris Dulgarian, Joy Henderson, Mijin Sim, and Akshay Yadav traveled to Turkey to complete their Spring 2015 IBD project with Indofood, the world’s largest producer of instant noodles.

Our excitement knew no bounds when we found out who our IBD client was – the world’s largest instant noodle manufacturer, Indofood (brand of noodles is Indomie)! Much to our surprise though, Indofood was facing some hurdles introducing instant noodles to Turkey.

The challenge seemed delicious, but the only problem was that our visit was 4 months after the semester started. Going beyond ourselves as usual, our team valiantly started soaking in the Turkish experience while we were at Berkeley itself, paying visits to yummy Turkish restaurants and reaching out to the Turkish community for insights.

Team Turkey at a Turkish restaurant on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley

Team Turkey at a Turkish restaurant on Shattuck Ave in Berkeley

Soon we realized why Turkey was an uphill challenge for Indomie. Not only was the Turkish food delicious, it was also relatively inexpensive and Turkish people were extremely fond of the diversity of the cuisine available to them. Meals typically had many courses, and the cooks in the house were proud of their elaborate food preparations.

A mini version of the Turkish spread

A mini version of the Turkish spread

When the team arrived in Turkey, we set about talking to as many locals as we could to get a better perspective of the target customers of Indomie. While some families kindly hosted us in their homes, we met other target customers such as youngsters in universities and coffee shops for focused group discussions and noodle tasting sessions.

Focus group discussions with locals

Focus group discussions with locals

As we expected, many people instantly fell in love with the taste of noodles. However, there were some concerns ranging from healthiness to awareness and packaging, factors that were potentially keeping customers from buying noodles. The Turkish passion for fresh food and local ingredients was unambiguous and very impressive. The bulk of the local population bought their provisions from bi-weekly organic food bazaars, where one could find an extensive variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and spices.

Visiting a food bazaar in Instanbul

Visiting a food bazaar in Instanbul

To gain more insights on customers’ buying habits and concerns, we gathered as much data as we could through ethnographic interviews, surveys and focused group discussions. The team realized that the two biggest bottlenecks in the sales of Indomie noodles were the lack of awareness about the product and perception of noodles as an alien food.

Even though Indomie had been in Turkey for 5 years, they had not invested in marketing their product, and this resulted in very sparse awareness of the noodles. Even when people knew about them, they would hesitate to buy the pack owing to the packaging and perception of flavor of the noodles. The most popular flavors are Eggplant, Beef, Tomato and Yogurt, and a combination of any of these seem to set off hunger bells for any Turkish person. These factors put together yielded in low sales of noodles.

The team ended up giving multiple suggestions for improving sales such as localizing flavors, introducing larger packs etc., all of which fell under one of the 4 P’s of marketing – Product, Price, Placement or Promotions. The suggestions were welcomed by the management, and they reassured the team that their own findings were on similar lines too.

Chris with his recommendation on using brand ambassadors for advertising

Chris with his recommendation on using brand ambassadors for advertising

With the final presentation delivered to the customer, the team had some free time to explore the beautiful and conveniently located country. We managed to squeeze in a few trips to different destinations in Turkey and Egypt, which were all affordable and close to Istanbul. The most memorable trip was to Cairo, where the entire team got to visit the pyramids for the first time!

The IBD Turkey team in Egypt

The IBD Turkey team in Egypt

Overall, the IBD trek was a real success, and the team learned significant facts about challenges in running the instant noodles business, especially in a nascent market. Meeting the beautiful people of Turkey and seeing breathtaking sights over the country were just the icing on the cake!

So if you go to Turkey and see Tomato and Yogurt noodles on a shelf in a supermarket, remember that the Haas IBD team of 2015 probably had something to do with it. Elveda Turkey!

Elveda (goodbye) Turkey -- the team with our client representatives, Yusuf and Diaa

Elveda (goodbye) Turkey — the team with our client representatives, Yusuf and Diaa

Franklin Templeton Team Continues Travels with Visit to Istanbul

Team Franklin Templeton is traveling through the Middle East and Eastern Europe working with Franklin Templeton, a global money manager, on a project to help better understand the business opportunities throughout their “CEEMEA” region (Central & Eastern Europe, Middle East, & Africa), and to provide a go-forward recommendation for business penetration in Israel and Turkey.

Following our 9-day visit to Israel, the Franklin Templeton IBD team traveled to Istanbul, Turkey, where we met two new business representatives who cover the region.  Our first three days in Istanbul were jam-packed as we met with financial regulators, banks, pension funds, and independent advisors.  Similar to Israel, the people here have all been so welcoming, generous with their time, and excited to speak about the opportunities they see in Turkey, one of the most exciting and fastest-growing markets in the world.

Even before we landed, it started to become clear that Turkey is a huge opportunity, in both scale and scope.  Our flight into the city gave us the first glimpse of Istanbul’s sheer size (over 13mm and growing).

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Our flight took us over the heart of Istanbul and the Bosphorus – the strait that divides the European and Asian sides of the city, and one of the world’s busiest waterways

After 2 days on-the-ground, and with 8 meetings under our belt, we were in agreement that this market is ready for FT’s full attention.  Our interview questions thus shifted away from “market opportunity” and towards “market penetration” as we started to learn more about regulatory licensing, personnel, corporate structure, and capital adequacy requirements, should FT execute a local-presence plan.

Despite an intense schedule of meetings, the team was also able to appreciate some of the sights and sounds that make this such a remarkable and vibrant city.  We took a half day on Saturday to explore some of the most famous areas of Istanbul.

The Blue Mosque from afar

The Blue Mosque from afar

Inside of The Blue Mosque

Inside of The Blue Mosque

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Picture inside the Hagia Sophia

We were also afforded the opportunity to taste some of the local cuisine, set amidst some of the most beautiful hillsides and waterways we have seen during our travels.

Our first evening in Istanbul, hilltop restaurant along the Bosphorus.

Our first evening in Istanbul, hilltop restaurant along the Bosphorus

Team dinner after our final meeting.

Team dinner after our final meeting

During our project work we were reminded how global the Haas and IBD network truly stretches, as our group ran across our own Dean Lyons in our hotel!  The Dean was visiting Istanbul to host an event for alumni and local business/education representatives about Innovative Leadership.   We were invited to attend and, as always, Dean Lyons’ speech was inspirational and brilliantly said.  We all really enjoyed being able to hear his thoughts and meet fellow Haas alum 6,500+ miles from Berkeley.

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Dean Lyons presenting on Innovative Leadership

Even on the streets of Istanbul, we found locals wearing shirts and hats that reminded us of home.

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Prior to our final meeting in Istanbul, we found a local security guard in a not-so-official security uniform

Ultimately, our mandate in Istanbul is to provide a recommendation of whether (and how) to enter the local asset management market.  As part of our project, we are to consider both the economic, political and socio-economic conditions of both Turkey and the 100 other countries in the CEEMEA region for Franklin Templeton.

While in Turkey, we were witness to a bit of the recent political unrest, a condition that has been absent for many years.  In seeing the citizens’ demonstrations against certain restrictive government policies, we were reminded that the business opportunities that come from entering an emerging market also come with a set of risks.  These risks are different in each of the countries we are evaluating, but are at the heart of what justifies our project.  Naturally this makes providing a thoughtful recommendation critical, and uniquely challenging, for each market.

The city center where citizens congregated to protest select government policies

The city center where citizens congregated to protest select government policies

Ultimately, our group is very excited about the opportunities we found here in Turkey.  As we work toward our final presentation, to be delivered on Thursday to FT’s local executives in Dubai, we must develop a thorough and high-impact recommendation.  Our presentation will help position FT in this rapidly growing economy and pave the way for FT to be a market-leading money manager as Turkey’s global economic position continues to rise.