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.

Fair enough, so I tried the UK store, which solved the language issue but raised a new one in that I needed a UK credit card to make the purchase. Eventually, I found that I could get round the credit card issue by purchasing a physical PlayStation Network card for 20€, but waiting for that to be delivered sort of defeats the object of being able to instantly download titles… It’s a similar story with iTunes. Lovefilm’s movie steaming app cannot be used outside of the UK (although it does accept the Spanish credit card). Same with the US equivilant Netflix.

And it’s not only content that doesn’t pay much attention to the needs of expats – the marketing attached can be completely off the mark too. One music video streaming app I used persistently showed me an ad for Waitrose chain of supermarkets in the UK, which has no relevance to me as an expat. Top music-streaming application Spotify presents a similarly poor marketing campaign, broadcasting ads in Spainsh and suggesting Spanish musicians I have far less interest in than English-language artists.

So why is it that these giant companies seem to be passing on the expat market? Is it that they make so much money from native consumers that they simply don’t care? Or is the technical side of implementing multi-language content the thing that’s hard to get to grips with?

Seeing as expats, or even travellers, are clearly acknowledged as a prime target for handheld digital devices, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure the content is easily accessible with relevant marketing attached to it?

Gyte says:

Being an expat myself, I know the pain and am also very annoyed when I cannot buy the music/e-books or similar I want simply because I stay in a different country from the one I come from. I even have to fight google not to show be results in the wrong language and context: simply because they assume the physical location means everything.

Unfortunately, I think these companies know the issue, they simply do not care: expact communities are too small and putting a lot of attention and specific development towards them is not enough. After all, if you are staying in Spain, you MIGHT want to buy spanish music, because that is what are are hearing on the radios, cafes and stores, that is what you are getting used to. Thus it may not even make sense to create such option for expact, because even among the expacts are having such problem.

Then another issue is probably legal: related to taxing of different products etc. Countries which have high sales taxes do not want consumers to shop outside. Much easier for the companies to simply say: you have to shop where you are/your card is issued rather than investigate difficult laws and risk that one of the small highly taxed markets will create trouble for them.