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The Growing Asian American Market, a Likely Target for Cause Marketing

It’s peach season where I live and so with peach juice running down my face my mind naturally turns to China and Asia and the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. What do peaches and Asians have to do with each other? The prunus persica is Asian, a native to China that has long been a welcome addition to the American cornucopia.

Likewise, Asian Americans are emerging as a ripe target for cause marketing.

Asian Americans are among the best educated and the highest earners. At more than $500 billion, their annual buying power represents about 1/32nd of the entire U.S. economy. There are some 18.2 million Asian Americans in the United States, about 5.8 percent of the population. By 2050, they’re projected to grow to 40.6 million or 9 percent of the population.

Eighty percent of Asian Americans live in households with Internet access, the highest among race and ethnic groups. Chinese is the second most common language spoke in America after Spanish. The medium income of Asian Indians is $90,429. Twenty percent of Asian Americans over the age of 25 have graduate degrees, twice the rate for all Americans as a whole. Currently just ten states account for 75 percent of Asian American buying power, led by California, New York and Texas. 

But, naturally, Asian Americans aren’t a monolithic group. That’s evident from their country of origin (about 75 percent of Asian Americans were born abroad):
  • 3.6 million Chinese
  • 3.2 million Filipino
  • 2.8 million Asian Indian
  • 1.7 million Vietnamese
  • 1.6 million Korean
  • 1.3 million Japanese
So while ‘Asian American’ is a handy label, notwithstanding the Harold and Kumar movies, it’s not one that most Asian Americans would likely self-identify with.

So how are cause marketers to approach this polyglot market?

By the third generation, most Asian Americans are just Americans. The second generation is most likely to be bilingual. And the first generation is most likely to speak mainly their native language. Although, it’s fair to say that most first-generation Filipinos and Asian Indians come to the United States speaking English and their native tongue.

Because literacy and education rates are so high, text-heavy cause marketing activations can work, so long as you pick the right language.

It terms of illustrating your cause marketing, it’s probably a mistake to just fill it with visuals of various shades of indeterminate brown people. It’s all but impossible to make those kinds of contrived pictures to feel authentic. Better to illustrate the campaign with lifestyle images.

Asian Americans are a peach of a target market for cause marketers. But you better do your homework first.

(This post was drawn from the August 2012 issue of Deliver magazine, which was also the source of all the statistics quoted herein).

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