The Expat Magazine: A Short History and Overview of Malaysia's Leading Expatriate Information Service

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The Expat magazine has come a long way since its inception in 1996 as a 26 page, black and white, bi-monthly newsletter. This plush publication is now the most widely read magazine among English speaking expatriates residing in Malaysia. Subscription to the Expat magazine is free, and 60% of subscribers have asserted that they read this expat magazine exclusively.

The Beginnings of The Expat magazine

The seeds of The Expat magazine were sown when Andy Davison (Founder and CEO of The Expat Group) combined his extensive business experience and acumen (he had previously worked as a senior executive for American Express) with the writing skills of New Straits Times journalist Nora Marzuki to create a newsletter to provide expats with quality information about the ways to make the most out of their Malaysian experience, both professionally and recreationally.

Though the Asian financial crisis of 1997 brought a whole host of business related woes, it also provided the climate in which Andy Davison developed the entrepreneurial prowess that would see the small expat newsletter publication supplemented by more efficacious methods of written communication adopted. This would, at first, take the form of the In Bangsar newspaper which followed the format firmly established by other local community papers. 36,000 copies of In Bangsar were published monthly and delivered free of charge to Bangsar residents. Despite the newspapers popularity amongst the majority of the Bangsar expat community, the publication stopped after only a few years.

Over time, as other business ventures rose and fell, the small black and white newsletter publication gradually evolved into an extensive 100 page color publication providing information about the culture, cuisine and characters that marked the Malaysian landscape. The Expat magazine, owing to the fact that it offered a free subscription service, reached more readers than any competing publication and reached a demographic consisting of an impressive 25 different nationalities. The number of nationalities has since grown to over 100.

Launch of Other Products and Services

Additional magazines were also published owing to The Expat magazine’s growing popularity. These included the very popular Expat Welcome Guide, first published in 2005, which provides newly arrived expats  with all the essential information (as well as a few interesting extras) to be acquainted with during their stay, and the KL welcome guide, first published in 2006, for visitors to Malaysia’s capital.
After enjoying a broader readership with the insertion of an expat column in the now sold Malay Mail newsletter, the steadily expanding Expat Group instigated the loyalty card incentive. This card provides members with discounts at The Expat Group’s monthly events.
Though it was a slow and arduous process to get businesses throughout Malaysia to recognize the extensive new business opportunities that the internet medium could provide (aptly demonstrated with the failure of which failed to attract even free advertising). Over time, however, (now, with an extensive and regularly update listing of local business and tantalizing articles about the best the Peninsular and Borneo Malaysia has to offer, began garnering an extensive degree of success and continues to be the main source of subscription for the Expat Magazine.  Following the same rhizomic expansion  model set by the Expat Magazine’s companion publications, Expat KL was soon accompanied by Dine Malaysia (which showcases the countries best eateries and dishes) Property in Malaysia (which lists regularly updated property investment information as well as basic facts that every potential expat should be acquainted with), International Education Malaysia ( a quality school and education information source) and Senses of Malaysia (which, in conjunction with the magazine of the same name, covers facets of Malaysian lifestyle and culture). By linking these web pages with the printed publications, the Expat Group realized a winning formula that has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Since 2002, the Expat Group’s collaboration with the Malaysia My Second Home Government Initiative (which organizes visa permit services and consultancy to expatriates) has amassed a host of invaluable information, resources and benefits that have done much to attract expats and smooth their transition from their homeland to the Malaysian  environment.  The Expat Magazine (subscription to which is listed as one of the perks of MM2H membership) functions neatly in tandem with the government initiative, as it presents a detailed and varied monthly overview of the opportunities and attractions (new and old) that Malaysia has to offer.

With the increasing circulation of The Expat Magazine and adjunct publications, The Expat Group was able to take greater strides towards preeminence. In 2007, the first Expat Expo was held at the lavish convention center at KLCC (beneath the famous Petronas Twin Towers).  This expo did wonders for promoting impressive Malaysian investment opportunities as well as clarifying the grey areas and reservations held by visitors unaccustomed with Malaysian life. The success of this event, which attracted several thousand inquirers, coupled with Senses of Malaysia winning the coveted award for best tourism publication at the 2010 Malaysia Tourism awards, boosted the international prestige of the Expat Group significantly.

After 18 Years and Still Going Strong

Today, after 18 years, The Expat Group retains a position of market leadership that looks set to continue well into the future. Continual adaptation and innovation (such as giving readers a better method of responding and voicing their opinions through surveys, online discussions and forums) have been the dual concepts that have brought The Expat Group to this position. Furthermore, the fact that corporate and government entities communicate their messages through the Group and its resources as its first port of call for information, is testament to its well established reputation for providing robust information about why Malaysia remains a veritable paradise for both business and pleasure.

You can get your free subscription to The Expat magazine here.


Read more: A Short History of The Expat Group by CEO & Founder Andy Davison

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