Due to the growing interest in U.S. Asian consumers, brands and marketers are asking: Is there a pan-Asian identity or culture? What are their values and passions? Do Asian consumers need or even want in-language or in-culture services? Who influences their purchasing decisions? Should we target the Asian segment as a whole, or only specific Asian-origin sub-segments? To answer the pressing questions from clients, we developed a two-part series on the essentials of Asian American marketing (Asian Marketing – Part 1). In this second installment, we delve into culture, values, and passions to better understand the Asian consumer as a whole.
Is There a Pan-Asian Identity?
The largest fraction across groups we studied agree that Asians of different origin groups are more similar than different. Half or more of each group also believe that foreign residents should culturally assimilate to where they immigrate to. But Assimilation does not mean a disconnection from their own culture. In fact practicing cultural traditions is important to many, especially Indian and Filipino consumers.
Even though there are clear similarities across segments, both foreign- and U.S.-born Asians prefer using their Asian origin to “Asian” or “American” when describing themselves. Their life goals and passion points also vary widely.
The Role of English
Bilingual Asians are the largest and fastest-growing segment within the U.S. Asian population. Across segments, most use English for functional activities, like researching a potential purchase or reading technical material. A mix of English and their native language is used for leisurely and emotional activities, such as watching movies or communicating with friends and family.
Values and Passion Points
Spending time with family and traveling are the top two passion points for everyone, including the non-Hispanic white segment. Although most Asians are future-focused, Koreans are more likely to live in the moment and splurge. When it comes to family, Asian segments expect their adult children to be financially independent and to support them as they age.
Sources of Influence
All Asian segments turn to online research such as general web searches or online reviews and testimonials when deciding on a purchase. A key difference is that Indians and Filipinos turn to spouses, while Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese segments seek advice from friends first.
Resonating with Asian Consumers
A common sentiment across sub-segments is that Asians in ads and on TV are portrayed as un-American, foreign, and exotic. While this is a stereotype they heavily dislike, Asian consumers also dislike it when shows go too far in the other direction, denying the Asian heritage of a character or actor that’s clearly Asian. Brands must strike a careful balance and remember that even though most U.S. Asians are foreign-born, they’re also pro-assimilation and seek to adapt to U.S. culture. But they also feel strongly attached and connected to their cultural heritage and feel it’s important to preserve it.
Seeing how trust in a brand seems to be the most influential factor in Asian consumers’ purchasing decisions, we wanted to hear directly from them on what brands have to do to earn their trust.
One clear differentiator is that Asians care about brands getting involved and helping their community. Digging deeper into this we found that it’s driven primarily by millennials. Brands interested in finding a way in with Asian millennials need to start thinking about ways to give back to their communities.
Five Things to Remember when Targeting Asians
- Help alleviate tension of being American while preserving their Asian heritage by making your brand the bridge between both cultures.
- English is predominant for learning and researching, as well as most media consumption. Consider including some in-language wink in ads to stand out and establish an emotional connection.
- Although there is a pan-Asian identity, consumers want their individual values and passion points to be the main focus.
- There’s a fine line between showcasing passion points and stereotyping. Test your creative to avoid offending your consumers.
- In-language and in-culture services are not enough. Asians want to see brands make a difference in their community.
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