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Expat Market In Switzerland – All You Need To Know About Expats Before Targeting Them

Switzerland has experienced an immigration boom over the last two decades. 32.4% of its workforce are made up of foreigners. In a survey of over 20,000 expats from 46 countries, Switzerland was chosen as the top country to live and work in for the third year in a row. 

Filled with scenic landscapes, politically and economically stable, it is no wonder why many expats love residing in Switzerland. The stunning country has been rated the second-most politically stable country worldwide by expats. 

What is an expat?

An expat is an individual who is assigned overseas, often temporarily and for work reasons. Generally well-educated, possessing considerably high disposable income and in their forties, expats are an under-targeted market, often easily overlooked by companies, since companies are more likely to focus on bigger market — the local audience. 

There are two types of expats. The first being traditional expats who are moving or have moved from their home country to a new country to establish a new life. The second are expats who have lived abroad and are returning to their home country. Their return could be motivated by various reasons ranging from career advancement and retirement to personal and familial reasons. 

Behaviours of Expats in Switzerland

Understanding expat behaviours will allow businesses to better target them. These trends are as follows:

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1. Location

The most popular cities expats in Switzerland are drawn to are Zurich, the country’s vibrant financial capital, and Geneva. While Zurich is home to the most foreigners according to the Federal Statistical Office, Geneva has the greatest proportion of residents without Swiss citizenship. 

2. Housing

About 40% of Swiss expats own their own homes, a huge disparity from 70% in the European Union. This is likely due to a lack of low-cost housing and minimum state subsidies. Home ownership tends to be more common in rural areas while rental housing is more common in urban areas such as Geneva, Basel, and Zurich.

3. Income

In 2018, the Swiss Federal Statistical Office compiled the average gross monthly salaries of various economic sectors in Switzerland. Across the sectors, the average monthly salary is CHF 6,785. Expats earn a similar average salary, with variation range of about 5%. In comparison, the global average monthly salary is only CHF 1360.

4. Cost of Living

Although Switzerland offers high salaries, the cost of living is painfully high. Switzerland ranks 34th out of 64 countries for the disposable household income being enough to offset costs of living. One of the biggest costs of living in Switzerland is healthcare. Swiss residents pay about CHF 801 per month per person on healthcare alone. This is because they are not required to pay a national insurance tax, and hence, the cost of health care is very high. 

What Do Expats Do

Expats in Switzerland are likely to be found in the finance, IT and biotechnology sectors. Note that Switzerland’s immigration policy is based on quota and proof is required that a local cannot meet the requirements for the job a foreigner is applying for. As a result, most of the expats working in Switzerland are highly qualified in skills and education. 

Channels used by expats in Switzerland

The following also serve as marketing channels to reach expats:

1. Swiss Publications 

Several publications within the Switzerland media cater exclusively to English speakers. Included are newspapers such as The Local, magazines like Inside Switzerland and Swiss News and online publications like Le News.  

2. Radio 

A handful of Swiss radio stations broadcast in English. One of them, World Radio Switzerland, is a mainstream radio station that covers local news, events and information.

3. Streaming Services

Some of the most popular streaming platforms are available in Switzerland. These include Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. Membership fees apply for users to enjoy the streaming content which feature popular shows and movies from around the world.

4. Virtual Private Network (VPN)

More commonly known as VPN, Virtual Private Networks are becoming more popular among expats in Switzerland to browse the internet more securely and anonymously. A huge advantage for VPNs is the unbridled access to online content that is unavailable in Switzerland. Using VPNs, expats can access their favourite sites from home and other countries. VPNs available in Switzerland are Atlas, CyberGhost, Express, Nord, Surfshark and Vypr. 

Expat Communities in Switzerland

In 2019, Switzerland was ranked 61st out of 64 countries for how easy it was to find friends. Only 10% of expats in Switzerland would describe the locals’ attitudes towards foreign residents as very friendly. Comparatively, 27% of expats worldwide would describe locals’ attitudes as so. Expats find it easier to make friends with other expats in Switzerland. 

Marketing to Expats in Switzerland

Rather than marketing generally to all expats in Switzerland, segment the expat audience into young professionals, middle-aged senior executives and pensioners. The different sub-target groups are likely to have diverse needs and wants. Understand the differences and craft targeted marketing strategies accordingly. 

It is likely that being in the know of local news and current world affairs is important to expats. Being present on Swiss publications that expats regularly read via opinion pieces, contributions or even, ads, are sure to pull eyeballs from your target audience.

Generally, emotional approaches fare better than rational approaches when it comes to marketing. Try incorporating emotional aspects of expat life into your marketing campaigns.

As seen in the statistics above, expats in Switzerland lack a sense of belonging and friendship in the local community. Therefore, organising events that provide opportunity for bonding with and integration into the community would be a draw. They would also serve as a platform for marketing your products and services.

Conclusion

The expat community can be seen as a niche market. However, in Switzerland, it is large and growing in numbers year on year. As it is also made up of various nationalities, a one-size-fits-all strategy is not recommended. In fact, they are more diverse than the Swiss population. Target multiple segments of the expat market by producing multiple messages directed at their specific situations. 

How Moovaz Can Help

With the growing opportunities in the expatriate market, enhancing your customer experience and targeting your clients accurately is more important than ever.

Moovaz is an end-to-end relocation platform that eases the mobility of global citizens. Partner with us today to increase your reach to the expat community!

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