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#CNILux: Talking Turkish Luxury

Cem Boyner, CEO of Boyner Group, explains how his company embraces opportunity

Photo: Yannis Vlamos /

At the third CNI Luxury Conference in Oman, Cem Boyner, CEO of Turkey’s Boyner Group, describes how he gets to know his customers. Photo:

Cem Boyner introduced a new word to the collective vocabulary on the first day of the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in Oman: vugu vugu. The Swahili word means “lukewarm” and Boyner discovered it on a recent safari trip when he was trying to explain his idea of the perfect shower to his hosts. But that’s not important. What is important is the analogy he drew between this lukewarm shower and the approach to luxury in Turkey.

“Our geography doesn’t have much vugu vugu – what we have keeps us alive,” he explained, adding that it is polar extremes that have kept the Turks on their toes for centuries – for political, social, and economic reasons alike – making them agile and reactive to what goes on around them. “Every moment with our customer counts … and the customer needs a lot of investment,” he said.

Boyner calls the collective retail sector – himself included – “master profilers”

Right now, that investment is reaping rewards or, to put it more accurately, harvesting data, through his recently launched app, HOPI, which has 4.7 million users as of this week. The goal? To give his customers what they want, when they want it, or as Boyner put it: “To know what the customer wants before she even knows she wants it.”

“We know so much about our customers, from who was skiing, to who was in a park, from who was walking to who was running … which means we know which customers we are going to offer Body Armour running shoes and Nike walking shoes to,” he said, calling the collective retail sector – himself included – “master profilers”. (He also revealed that they target parents six months after they have bought shoes for their children, as they know they have probably grown out of the previous pair by then.)

But Boyner has taken this attentiveness even further, by introducing an initiative that allows customers to order items for home delivery by phone, and keep them for up to three weeks before deciding if they want to keep them. Although in early stages, Boyner says that he’s seeing a 40% sell-through, showing there’s an appetite for targeted retailing with a personal touch.

“Every walking hour, every corner, 360 degrees should be ours to claim,” he said. “Wherever our customer is going, we should be there.”

Suzy Menkes speaks with the President & Managing Director of the Etoile Group, Ingie Chalhoub.

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