As the population of Asian American continues to grow, and the community’s buying power increases with it, what are businesses going to do to earn the Asian American dollar? AsAmNews recently talked to Edward Chang, president of 3AF (pictured), the Asian American Advertising Federation, to look at advertising trends and what it means for the Asian American community.
First some background: What is the Asian American Advertising Federation? Who are your members and what is your goal?
The 3AF is a non-profit organization with membership that includes Asian American advertising agency principals, media, corporate marketers and strategic partners. We all share common goals: We want to grow Asian American advertising and marketing industry; raise awareness about the Asian American community and specifically the marketing opportunities it presents; and further professionalism within the industry.
How big of a market is the Asian American consumer?
The Asian American market is one of rapid growth. In 1990, the US Asian population was about 7 million, and today it has more than doubled standing at over 18 million. Since 2000, the US Asian population has seen the fastest growth of any ethnic segment, including Latinos, and is driven mainly by new immigration. What is more is that the buying power of Asian Americans has reportedly increase some 523% since 1990, exceeding $720 billion. Nielsen projects buying power will exceed $1 trillion by 2017. Clearly, opportunities for marketers to target Asian Americans as a consumer segment are only becoming more robust
How segmented is the Asian American market?
Asian Americans are a diverse group made up of many ethnicities. One approach Asian American advertising agencies often take for their clients is to pinpoint shared consumer propensities which can be unifying and strong. When marketers can’t reach every segment individually, this approach helps make for efficient communications. For marketers there can be common denominators, but It is not one size absolutely fits all, nor should it ever be. There are nuances that should be considered, as can be imagined — different experiences, languages and cultures, religions, politics, etc drive varying needs and opportunities. There are different media opportunities to consider. A good agency or other industry partner can help marketers easily navigate and optimize.
Marketers might also think of it in reverse. By that I mean, Asian influences and influencers on the general market are increasingly moving to the forefront. Let’s use entertainment as an example. We are seeing that Korean dramas (pictured Hotel King) for example, have a wide appeal across not only Korean and Asian audiences in general, but also white and even Hispanic viewers. We are seeing more and more successful diversity programming on TV that have broad appeal and wide marketability. ABC TV has new shows upcoming that will feature Asian lead characters, and diversity marketing is clearly on their agenda. The trend to leverage Asian American influences to appeal to broader markets is growing fast.
How are the needs of the Asian American market different from other markets?
If I can speak very broadly, one of the main things to consider is that Asian Americans will have a different set of experiences than other groups. This may drive generally different needs and considerations for how they consume products and services. In my role at APartnership, we work on a number of anti-smoking initiatives for example, and we find the social norms and attitudes towards smoking are different in Asian communities than the general market for example.
They are also different among different Asian ethnic segments. For example, there seems to be lower understanding about the harmful effects of second-hand smoke in the household than in the general markets. Asians tend to feel it’s more ok to smoke in front of their children for example. Here in the states the health consequences of smoking has been reported on by the Surgeon General for 50 years.
If you consider tobacco use in Asian home countries, tobacco control initiatives are not as longstanding or robust, and thus use is more acceptable. That’s just one example. So extrapolate that to think about experience and attitudes with different brands or categories of product and services, and you can begin to imagine where differences can be found. Car buying, banking habits, home care, etc…. these difference can be looked at as marketing or communications opportunities.
How specific should marketing methods be to reach the Asian American community?
There is an opportunity to be very specific in your methods, but there is a practicality marketers face in execution. Budgets simply can’t go deep enough to cater to everyone as best you like. That’s where a strong agency partner can come in and help marketers find the right balance.
How receptive are major corporations to advertising to the Asian American community? How has this evolved over the years?
As a community Asian need to be proactive in our dialogue to raise and shape our visibility. It is the most fundamental way we can increase receptivity among major corporations to advertise to this community.
We have a long way to go, but you are seeing more and more Asians appearing in media in general. Certainly more Asians are being shown in advertising, so I would say the awareness of Asians as a marketing force is growing, and there is better sensitivity to portrayal of Asians. There are too few marketers investing meaningful advertising dollars in this market. We must demonstrate the opportunity.
Why can’t general marketing methods which work for the general population also work for the Asian American community?
General marketing can work – it just has to be relevant and able to positively resonate. If the marketing doesn’t reflect the experiences and needs of the audience, it fails. If it doesn’t spark emotional connections with the brand, it fails. To the extent that a general marketing campaign can be executed such that it is meaningful, understood and relevant to the Asian American community, it can work.
Why or should members of the Asian American community care about the goals of your organization?
Yes, absolutely important. For one, let’s be mindful that media is ultimately driven by marketing and advertising dollars. It also goes without saying that media wields tremendous societal influence. If Asians as a group are not important to marketers and advertisers, then Asians as a group will lack media visibility. Which means in mass media, we are not changing social norms. There will be a perpetuation of negative stereotypes. We are not influencing the dialogue. Now, I don’t want to overstate what we are doing — at the end of the day we are making commercials — but in whatever way we can move the needle positively for our community, that is our charge.
For over 10 years, the 3AF has annually hosted the Asian Marketing Summit as an opportunity for the industry to convene to discuss issues and trends in our industry(pictured- 2013 #AF award-winners). The Summit kicks off with our Boot Camp, which is an opportunity for new marketers, or anyone interested in Asian American marketing to get immersed in the basics including basic population and demographics, psychographics, media and case studies. Once grounded the main conference will have two general themes: What new opportunities do we see for marketers to include Asians Americans in their marketing plans. And to provide practical tools and approaches to reach the audiences. Who – What and How.
Any marketer or advertiser who is looking for ideas, trends and partners to increase their marketshare.(pictured 2013 3AF board)
You can view our full agenda using Yapp (app)