The fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, Asian-Americans, appears to be a target marketers dream.
Just 11 million people command the buying power of $253 billion. The Selig Center for Economic Growth, Athens, Ga., estimates that this figure will rise to $455 billion by 2007.
Household incomes for this segment are also in excess of the general population by $10,000 per year.
Easy to reach, more than 90% live in metropolitan areas with half the population living in just three states. Yet, hundreds of corporations are leaving billions of dollars on the table either because they are discounting the economic clout of a mere four percent of the total population, or because they are overwhelmed by the kaleidoscopic diversity of Asian languages, cultural traditions, countries of origin, sociological contexts and other variables.
Following are seven key principles that unify diverse Asian-American groups of consumers and also differentiate them from other western demographics.
These guidelines need to be applied to individual categories after demographic and other segmentation analyses have been made.
1. The Nostalgia Market. AT&T, MetLife and some other leading brands have skillfully identified this core principle in communicating with Asian-Americans very poignantly in some of their advertising and collateral materials.
Most Asian-Americans are foreign-born, recent immigrants with frequent and close ties back home. Brands can act as bridges that connect consumers with their homeland through product offerings and messages or grassroots efforts at important holidays.
Take a look at various Asian-American portals to get an idea of the value of nostalgia marketing to this group. For both life and health insurance products, very often the starting point can be the presence of ethnic agents and outlets situated in a Chinatown or the equivalent centers of commerce for other subgroups like Little India or other key centers.
2. The Entrepreneurial Niche. Minority-owned businesses are growing four times faster than the general market, and Asian-Americans once again have shown remarkable growth in this area.
Asian-Americans have carved unique niches for themselves, exemplified by the flourishing Korean women-owned nail salons or South Asian-owned motels across the country.
Insurance firms that wish to cultivate relationships with ethnic entrepreneurs can strategically partner with other businesses like airlines, telecommunications, cable and media services, and others effectively.
At another level, many insurance firms that work with the community to recruit agents and sales force have successfully tapped the entrepreneurial abilities of Asian-Americans.
3. The Language of Family and The American Dream. No matter that this group speaks more than 50 different languages at home or the fact that they come from a myriad of countries, there is one underlying common factor that brings them together in the United States.
Like many other immigrants from other countries and cultures, Asian-Americans dream for their children and invest early in securing the future of their children and their families.
Whether it be a Filipino executive in Los Angeles or a Korean professor at an Ivy league school or a Chinese surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, they are one in their quest to build a good home for their families, saving up for a first-class education for their school-going children or even in providing health packages for their parents or relatives.