It has been almost two years since our first quarantine when we rushed to panic-buy groceries. Back then, we were amateurs in dealing with the pandemic but were more optimistic about the economic crisis. You might remember the consumers who waited in line with their Luppo snacks during the grocery runs. Many people couldn’t understand why there was a need to wait in line for Luppo on a day when the country was under a lockdown. However, the motivation behind that purchase was not merely about having a snack for occasional sweet cravings during the pandemic; it was about not returning home empty-handed due to the lack of economic power to stock up on essentials. Those who didn’t immediately grasp the economic reality behind that Luppo shopping trend were often white-collar workers. However, after numerous price increases and economic hardships, there is hardly any trace of the old white-collar workers who seemed immune to economic struggles.


The AB socio-economic group is starting to resemble emotionally the C2 group!


For the past ten years, marketing has been closely studying low-income groups. For example, it has made efforts to understand the mysteries of subcultures that some people avoided joining TikTok just because they existed. However, in 2022, the new “other” that we need to redefine is white-collar workers. Although you might not see white-collar workers standing in line with Luppo at supermarket chains, the crisis has heavily impacted them psychologically and behaviorally.


To understand the transformation of white-collar workers in Turkey to the “new other,” we must first grasp how privileged their ivory towers were:


The majority of white-collar workers belong to the AB segment, which is the most advantaged socio-economic group in Turkey. However, considering the AB segment as Turkey’s “elite” would not be accurate.


In the land of tradesmen, white-collar workers are the children raised with the mindset of “if you work hard, you’ll succeed,” coming from parents who often do not have higher education, not even university or high school graduates.


Although it has been generations since they started receiving university education, traveling abroad for vacations, and having a second language like a mother tongue, these are not the reality for most white-collar workers.


Although they are the most privileged group in Turkey, we cannot think of the AB socio-economic group and white-collar workers as segments that have become immune to economic changes in their ivory towers.


Despite not understanding the need for Luppo stockpiling two years ago, they were never too far from becoming that consumer with Luppo in their hands.


What has changed in the last two years to make white-collar workers the new other?


According to TUIK (Turkish Statistical Institute), the consumer price index increased by 36% in December 2021 compared to December of the previous year. However, this increase affected consumers’ daily lives and budgets differently. For instance, potatoes saw a 115% increase in price, margarine 114%, and sunflower oil 76%. In such a situation, white-collar workers felt the emotional impact of having to rapidly convert unfamiliar practices into behaviors more than other segments.


So, how has the economic behavior and internal transformation of white-collar workers in the AB segment, mostly residing in Ümraniye rather than ivory towers, changed in the last two years?


Analyzing the data from continuous tracking surveys with more than 450,000 consumers in 21 categories, and applying AI-based predictions to socio-economic segments, Futurebright Group compiled how the segments have undergone change in terms of economic behavior and emotional transformation.


Even though the AB segment, which constitutes the majority of white-collar workers, was expected to have the highest immunity against uncertainty, we discovered that they started to change their economic behavior.


60% believe there will be no income increase to compensate for the purchasing power they lost in the last year.


76% say they will check different websites and applications before making online purchases to find the best price.


61% express their intention not to buy anything other than urgent needs.


Despite being part of the AB segment, known for valuing savings, their behavior now resembles that of C-segment consumers, as they are forced to try anything to save their deteriorating purchasing power.


How does the erosion of purchasing power affect the internal transformation of white-collar workers who were raised with the “if you work hard, you will succeed” mindset and are part of the AB segment?


As we mentioned in our previous article, the subconscious desire to return to their roots is also valid for the AB segment:


70% express that they will make an effort to do many things they desire but have not accomplished.


However, at the same time, 58% of the AB segment admits that the anxiety and fear experienced during the pandemic have worn them out.


Even the most economically privileged segment feels psychologically drained during the pandemic and truly empathizes with the C2 segment, which feels most exploited by the system. They no longer see themselves as the masters of the high-rise office buildings; they have emotionally and behaviorally transformed into consumers akin to the C-segment.


Another area where the AB segment shares the same point with the C2 group emotionally is the feeling of losing control over their lives economically and socially. While 57% of AB workers agree with this statement, the rate is very similar among C2 consumers, standing at 58%. We now learn that attending preparatory courses in high school, graduating from the most lucrative departments of the best universities, and wearing shirts to work every day is not enough.


In addition to learning such a heavy lesson, the AB segment also needs to urgently change their behaviors accordingly. How can we support the C-segment white-collar workers who have to reflect these lessons in their behaviors?


Even the ritual of sharing worries over a meal after a long day of work, as seen in the old Turkish movies, is a luxury for white-collar workers now. With the decrease in traffic after fuel price increases, we are at a point where brands positioning themselves as economical and smart choices need to include white-collar workers in their radar. Every brand targeting the C segment in terms of attitude and behavior can also speak to the AB segment because they now listen to them as well. The real test for economically smart choice brands that will expand their target audience in a fruitful way will be preventing the promotion perception from surpassing the brand perception. Because, no matter how economically worn out they may be, white-collar workers are humans first and make decisions based on emotions and then rationalize them later.






Quoted from the article by Akan Abdula – Özge Sargın, January 31, 2022, published in Marketing Türkiye.