BrainTrust Query: What’s the best approach for marketing to Asian Americans?
Packaged Facts has just released a new report on the Asian American market called Asian Americans in the U.S.
It’s a comprehensive analysis of data from multiple sources including the Census Bureau and other government agencies, Simmons’ 2005 National Consumer Surveys (NCS) for kids and teens as well as adults, plus information collected from firms active in the Asian American market. Some highlights:
- There were 12.7 million Asian Americans in 2005. That’s a lot of growth, especially considering that in 1970 there were less than a million. Between 2000 and 2005, this population grew by 19.8 percent (the Hispanic population grew by 20.9 percent). Nearly half of Asians live in either California or New York.
- Chinese make up the largest subgroup of Asians (23 percent), followed by Asian Indians and Filipinos. The two fastest growing subgroups are Pakistanis and Asian Indians, which grew by 36 percent and 34 percent respectively between 2000 and 2005.
- As a group, Asian Americans are educated and affluent. Nearly half have a bachelor’s degree or more and they are the most likely group to work in managerial or professional jobs (46 percent compared to 38 percent of non-Hispanic Whites). The median income of Asian American households is 26 percent higher than the average. Still, there are disparities between different ethnic groups. For instance, the per capita income for Asian Indians and Japanese is about $31k per year. For Vietnamese, it’s less than $20k.
- Though still a largely immigrant population – immigrants accounted for 67 percent of Asian American population growth between 2000 and 2005 – more than four out of five Asian Americans five years old or over are English speakers.
- Compared to the average American consumer, Asian Americans are more frequent shoppers, more driven by bargains, and more likely to pay attention to advertising. They over-index in credit cards, allocate more of their budgets to designer clothing, are health conscious about food and have a preference for prescription medicine carrying a brand name. Not surprisingly, Asian Americans are big consumers of electronics, and are far more likely than the average consumer to say they keep up with developments in technology.
Discussion Questions: What can brands do better to attract Asian American consumers? Is it best to target Asians by subgroup, or will they respond to
General Market advertising?
In a 2005 Washington Post article, Robert J. Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television, posed three questions to marketers
looking at the Asian American market: “Are you appealing to the homesick person who spent a good portion of their life in Japan or China? Are you appealing to the second generation
who has been partially assimilated? Or are you trying to appeal to a wider audience?” Ultimately, how you answer these questions determines which approach you should take.
The Packaged Facts report highlights several companies, including Wal-Mart, Anheuser-Busch, Kraft, MetLife and Toyota, who have developed successful marketing
strategies geared toward Asian American consumers. Some, like MetLife, have focused on multiple segments of the Asian American community. Others market to specific groups, such
as Chinese or Koreans. Few have marketed to Asian Americans as a group, the way they have with Hispanics. After all, with a few prominent exceptions, like Brazil and Haiti, most
Latin Americans hail from Spanish speaking countries; Asians speak a myriad of languages.
But it may be that the real future of Asian marketing is with English. For instance, the Packaged Facts report points out that 78 percent of foreign-born
Asians speak English, compared to only 52 percent of foreign-born Latinos. The Made in America studies by New American Dimensions have shown that only about half
of 2nd generation Asians speak an Asian language, compared to three-quarters of their Hispanic counterparts that speak Spanish.
Few would deny that Asian Americans acculturate quickly. One of the most convincing measures is the high rate of Asian intermarriage, particularly among
the U.S. born. A 1998 study found that 40 percent of U.S. born Asians were married to people of a different ethnic group, and that nearly 80 percent of these marriages were to
partners of a different race. The 2006 New American Dimensions study found that among single Asians that were U.S. born, two-thirds date interracially, and only 45 percent indicated
that they intended to marry another Asian.
Many U.S. born Asians, like Hispanics, undergo a return to their ethnic roots, a process called retro or re-acculturation. To quote a January article in
Time magazine, today’s young Asian Americans often follow “the path of a boomerang: early isolation, rapid immersion and assimilation, and then a re-appreciation of ethnic
roots.” The surging Asian influence in American popular culture, as evidenced by sensations like manga, anime, the import car scene, Asian music and Bollywood movies, is likely
to be accompanied by a growing desire among Asian Americans to see themselves represented both in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue.
Click for more information about Packaged Facts and the report: Asian Americans
in the U.S.