Asian Americans' buying power rises

Updated: 2013-12-06 07:06

By KELLY CHUNG DAWSON in New York (China Daily USA)

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Asian American households outspend median US households by an average of 19 percent, and earn 28 percent more on average than the US median income, according to a consumer report released by Nielsen this week. As early adopters of new technologies, they also lead in high-speed Internet access, mobile connectivity, use of social media and in the number of internet pages viewed each month.

"With a relatively low cost of entry and a potentially high return on investment, the Asian American market represents a significant growth opportunity for the nation's businesses that sell goods and services," reported Nielsen, which provides information about consumers in more than 100 countries. "While population growth in the non-Hispanic White segment is slowing, Asian American consumers provide growth opportunity to your business by appealing to a consumer base that is growing, affluent, well-educated, geographically conentrated, technologically savvy and has tremendous buying power that continues to soar."

The Asian American population, which includes people with origins in China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and several other countries, has experienced a 51 percent jump in size since 2000, but while growth of the Hispanic population has been due to in-country births, the Asian American population has grown largely in part due to steady immigration. Three out of four Asian Americans are foreign-born, with 76 percent of Chinese not born in the US.

Chinese are the largest segment of the Asian American population, at 22 percent, and Indian Americans follow at 19 percent.

Additionally, the median Asian American household has grown 97 percent since 2000, with 28 percent of Asian American households reporting an income of more than $100,000. In comparison, 18 percent of US households report the same.

As the leading online shoppers, 77 percent of Asian Americans shopped online last year with an average of $2,500 spent, compared to 61 percent of all Americans, who averaged about half in spending online.

Asian Americans are also blurring the lines between traditional and emerging media, playing a major role in the use of new technologies, Nielsen said. This is in part because mobile usage in Asia is 76 percent, and leads the world in broadband usage.

Among Asian Americans, 14.4 percent use tablets, compared to 10.1 percent of the White population, according to the report. They view 3,600 internet pages each month, around 1,000 more than the average Internet user. The sites that they visit are not necessarily different from those that the general population visits, but they tend to visit a site more often and stay longer. For example, Asian Americans visit computer and consumer electronics sites 36 percent more often and spend 72 percent more time there than the general population.

However, traditional media still play a dominant role in Asian American households, with many viewers watching both mainstream and Asian-focused TV channels. Asian media outlets have grown 1,111 percent since 1999, according to Nielsen.

"While some Asian Americans can be reached through general English media, multiple studies have shown that ethnicity is core to the identity of all minorities, and Asians are no exception," the report said. "To effectively reach the majority of the Asian American market, it is imperative for marketers to utilize the Asian-language and/or Asian culture media to convey culturally tailored messages that can resonate with the Asian American audience."

A major unifying factor among "Asian values" is a focus on family, with 54 percent of Asian Americans reporting that a successful marriage is one of the most important values in life; 34 percent of the general population reported the same.

Buying power in the Asian American demographic was $718.4 billion in 2012, and is expected to top $1 trillion by 2017, according to Nielsen.

"You cannot afford to keep Asian Americans under the radar any longer," Nielsen said of American businesses. "This is a segment that is vital to your growth and success."