Felix Baumgartner
More than 8 million people watched Baumgartner’s descent to Earth. This is just the latest of Red Bull’s famous campaigns.

Viral marketing offers many advantages to companies who have a clear objective and simple product, by using online methods to target expats.

Many expats around the world are known as ‘netizens,’ or citizens of the Internet, an ever growing community of regular Internet users.

Two of the most notable recent examples of viral marketing are that of Red Bull and the Stratosphere stunt, involving millions of dollars, NASA and a live video feed; and the Christmas advertising campaign from John Lewis, who are well known amongst expats, due to their ability to deliver their products to over 30 countries worldwide.

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Graphic ranking online media channels
A ranked list of the website types consumers use to research products. (US data; Bynd.com)

How do you generate more sales? The big buzz is always social media but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Especially for expatriate products, more purchase interest seems to come from online channels other than Facebook and Twitter.

Expat purchases are normally ‘high involvement’ products such as health insurance coverage, personal finance, or real estate. Interestingly, a study by Joann DeLanoy explains that for high-involvement products, people use web search before using Twitter or Facebook.

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Migration from UK to Poland
Polish expats return home

Many Polish expats who had moved to the UK to make a better life for themselves are now returning home to Poland. For companies targeting foreigners, this change creates new business opportunities.

A study from UK National Board of statistics discovered that the most popular destination for non-British people was Poland – and that 98% of people moving there are Polish.

Poles have traditionally represented a large percentage of immigrants coming into the UK. Many believe the reason for the Poles abandoning the UK now, could be due to the fact that the economic gap between the two countries is closing considerably.

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Brits emigrate to Australia
Marketing opportunities also exist when you have heterogeneous audience.

The ideal target audience for any advertiser is a mass homogeneous group who share the same wants and needs. In theory, a homogeneous type of target group will allow the advertiser to address a large amount of potential costumers with less effort and resources than needed for a heterogeneous group of people. In practice, mass markets are often saturated and highly competitive.

To grow beyond mass markets, advertisers need to look for new “niche” targets. Expatriates, for example, are a very attractive niche, as they are looking for new products and services – and are not yet familiar with established national brands. In theory, you only have to get in front of them to sell your product.

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highly skilled immigrants
Marketers are often asked to estimate the size of a specific expat population. But how big is the market?

When asked to estimate the total size of their target market, expatriate marketers often face difficulties with the answer. There’s virtually no global data on international expatriation, and the available information usually does not differentiate between migrants, international students and high-income-expatriates. So what can you say the next time your boss asks you where to spend the expatriate marketing budget?

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Expats can make use of digital tools such as the ipad.
Wouldn't making it easier for expats to download content present a massive opportunity for expat marketers?

For the media-hungry expat, portable devices like iPads and Kindles are a godsend. But if expats are clearly a perfect demographic, why is it so difficult for us to access the content from abroad and why are we subjected to such irrelevant marketing?

For example, the other day I tried to download a game to my PSP (PlayStation Portable) device. I’m an English expat living in Spain, so I tried to use the Spanish PlayStation Store to make the purchase. However, there was no option to download an English-language game, it automatically assumed that because I was based in Spain that Spanish was my first language and I’d only be interested in Spanish products.

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expat marketing online advertising graph
Source: Interactive Ad Bureau; click to enlarge

Given it’s a new year we at Expat Marketing are looking ahead to major issues marketers will face over the next 12 months.

For private medical insurers there are plenty: a likely decline in the effectiveness of traditional display advertising, greater consumer focus on prices and, lastly, a need to more clearly differentiate their brands from the competition.

It used to be health insurance companies could basically throw up display ads and wait for customers to come to them–obviously that’s no longer true.

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Expat demographics are at a turning point
Expat populations must hit a critical mass before local media appears, says Stuart Smith, Managing Director of Max Media International.

In recent years expats have been moving abroad for different reasons (and under different financial circumstances) than they have traditionally. Many are migrating to escape economic hardship rather than retire in the sun, for example.

Stuart Smith, Managing Director of Max Media International, talks about how this demographic shift impacts media planners, and offers some media planning tips.

According to Alex Alpert, Business Development Director at Wheaton Worldwide Moving, brands can improve their image by portraying human qualities on social media.

Let’s face it. There are industries consumers simply love to hate (ahem: banks, insurers).

For these industries, the brave new world of social media has proven challenging, to say the least. Younger people are particularly difficult for these firms to reach.

The problem is these companies are viewed as impenetrable, faceless monoliths. So insists Alex Alpert, Business Development Director at Wheaton World Wide Moving and joint re-Founder of remobilize.org (a new movement for relocation professionals that aims to create professional development workshops and networking events young professionals actually want to attend).

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David Pryor, Senior Executive Director at MediCare, says there is fierce competition for young expat professionals.

The medical industry has been quick to spot potential in the young professional demographic. These expats often purchase the same level of cover as older expats, but claim much less, making them a profitable customer segment.

David Pryor, Senior Executive Director of MediCare International, talks to Expat Marketing about this group’s health insurance needs and how best to reach them.

David, what makes young professionals so attractive as a target group?

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