The Asian American segment is the fastest-growing racial/ethnic segment in the United States today. By 2060, Collage Group projects the Asian segment will almost double in size to 36 million people—roughly 9% of the total U.S. population. To capture this growth, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of the Asian consumer segment.
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Which Cultural Traits best characterize Asian Consumers?
The four Group Traits that best characterize the Asian segment are Cultural Duality, Conventionality, Reservedness, and Expertise-Seeking.
1. Cultural Duality
Cultural Duality captures the feeling of being both “American” and simultaneously identifying with another culture or heritage.
Individuals exhibiting this Group Trait constantly find new ways to both keep old traditions alive and redefine American culture in their own image. Both Asian and Hispanic Americans strongly exhibit this group trait.
While Asian Americans strongly believe in upholding the traditions of their countries of origin, they also feel a connection with American culture. This embrace of multiple aspects of their backgrounds leads to cultural fluidity – the ability to seamlessly navigate multiple cultural spheres – and a unique Asian American identity.
For Asian Americans, Cultural Duality is more than a feeling, it’s an active commitment to continue their traditions. Through food, holidays, religion, family connection, and more, Asian Americans are significantly more likely than non-Asians to report they still actively practice the traditions of their family’s heritage.
People sharing the Group Trait of Conventionality tend to aspire to tried-and-true lifestyles and ideas of what people should be doing in their general situations.
Concepts like “living the American Dream” will likely hold more sway with these individuals than anything positioned as part of an “alternative lifestyle.”
Asian Americans desire and pursue conventional lives marked by advanced education, stable jobs, marriage, and children. While this desire is weaker in younger Asian Americans, it continues to set the segment apart and manifest as an interest in traditional forms of success. The drive for conventionality comes from the desires to make one’s family proud and fit in with others.
Asians are significantly more likely than non-Asians to agree with the statement, “the way I live my life is mainly in line with what’s normal and expected for most people.” Asian Americans are also significantly less likely than other segments to report wanting to live unconventionally. This doesn’t mean they don’t aspire to success, but rather that they aspire to traditional successes like higher education and home ownership.
People exhibiting the Group Trait of Reservedness tend to be more private, and less likely to express what makes them unique, special, or otherwise interesting.
This does not mean they have nothing to say or lead boring lives; rather, they are simply content keeping these things to themselves.
Asian Americans are less likely than other segments to share their inner selves, including their thoughts, opinions, and feelings. This attitude stems from the emphasis on humility and self-effacement common in collectivist societies. However, younger Asian Americans, especially those raised in the United States, are embracing the outgoing and gregarious character often associated with Americans.
The instinct to go with the flow and keep thoughts to themselves can be linked to the collectivist tendencies of many Asian cultures. Asian Americans’ collectivism, which values the good of the many over the individual, sometimes manifests in a reluctance to say or do potentially inflammatory things with the goal to preserve peace in a situation.
People sharing this Group Trait look to experts – or sources of expertise – for advice.
Whether from certified professionals or the people they know who are more experienced on a subject, these individuals are more likely to seek out external sources of information before making important decisions.
Asian Americans, across country of origin, are focused on making sound decisions to ensure promising futures. This includes openness to both input from actual experts (physicians, financial advisors, etc.), as well as input from peers on topics of interest. Members of the segment often seek peer input to stay abreast of the latest trends.
Similar to the previous Group Trait of Reservedness, the collectivist attitudes of Asian Americans influence their tendency to trust experts. Collectivism requires self-effacement and humility, which results in the belief that you alone do not know what’s best and that you should seek advice before making big or small decisions.
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