The benefits of a pre-arrival strategy for newcomers

Moving2Canada's Gideon Lin explains how brands can win with immigrants before they even arrive.


By Gideon Lin

In today’s culturally diverse Canada, it’s crucial to have a multicultural marketing strategy in place. Approximately 22% of the Canadian population is a landed immigrant (permanent resident) or naturalized citizen, a share that is expected to rise to 30% by 2036. Brands with weak or misguided multicultural strategies, or no strategy at all, will find it increasingly difficult to catch up with competitors who have already built a strong base of multicultural customers and supporters.

A smart execution moves beyond simply using reflective imagery in Canadian advertising, and instead proactively fosters connection to a brand before the newcomer sets foot in Canada. At Moving2Canada, we call it a pre-arrival strategy – a proven, powerful strategy in which your brand’s voice will be heard loud and clear if you engage early enough. Because once a newcomer arrives at the airport, the chances of winning them over have diminished significantly.

Airlines are among the many businesses that could benefit from a pre-arrival strategy. India, China and the Philippines are the leading source countries of permanent newcomers to Canada, so there’s an opportunity for airlines to build a loyal customer base within those markets and offset seasonality in air travel. In most cases, newcomers have more flexible travel schedules, so a smart pricing plan could include selling round-trip tickets priced for newcomers (who frequently return to their homelands) with limitations on return travel dates. By targeting newcomers before they purchase their first flight to Canada, an airline could artificially create an Indian newcomer season, for example.

The retail industry is another area rife with opportunity in this space, because newcomers have little-to-no brand loyalty and their shopping baskets are 15% larger than those of average Canadians. In retail, the true opportunity lies in addressing newcomers’ immediate needs before they even know what those needs are. For instance, rain gear, winter tires and voltage adaptors are all products that don’t come to mind when you’re planning a move to a new country. But they’re needed. The retailers that offer them first could earn a loyal customer on the long-term.

When developing a pre-arrival strategy, companies should consider the emotional journey a newcomer goes through and position their brand as part of that journey to Canada. But bear in mind that a newcomer who arrived a year ago will have different needs than one who arrived three years ago. After five years, they are no longer considered newcomers; at this point they can be integrated into the general multicultural strategy. The brand that succeeds in marketing itself at the pre-arrival stage may already have a loyal customer.

In the telecom space, we see brands walking this walk by pairing promotional offers for newcomers with competitive pricing. This strategy, directed at potential newcomers before their arrival to Canada, ensures the brand comes front of mind the moment they land in Canada and more importantly, before the competition. Navigating phone and data plans is often one of the first challenges newcomers face, and providing a solution to that problem before they arrive helps a brand like Telus’ prepaid brand Public Mobile meet the immediate needs of the newcomer. (Full disclosure: Moving2Canada has been working with Public Mobile since earlier this year).

There’s also reason to think Public is already looking to the future needs of those customers. Having recently rebranded with a focus on diversity and connection, with new faceless illustrations that capture the idea of the Canadian “public” at large, the telco is also in a good position to continue speaking to those customers three or five years down the road.


Gideon Lin is a business development officer at Moving2Canada, a network that helps newcomers transition to Canada. He grew up in Israel and has been a newcomer to Canada since 2012.