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Digital Is the Place to Reach US Asians

High adoption of online, mobile and social activities

Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in the US, with their numbers having reached 17.3 million as of 2010. But “groups” would be a more accurate term, as US Asians are split among highly distinct ethnicities.

“No one country of origin accounts for even one-fourth of the total Asian population in the US, and shifting patterns of immigration mean its composition is always in flux,” said Mark Dolliver, eMarketer analyst and author of the new report, “US Asian Consumers: Examining a Growing and Varied Population.” “And marketers can’t simply rely on English to bypass the polyglot nature of this audience, since many Asians in the US are not fully fluent in the language.”

What they are fluent in, to an above-average degree, is digital usage. Asians overindex for internet engagement, mobile ownership and the like, even while lagging behind the general population in some key measures of old-media usage. Digital channels are the way to be sure of reaching this audience.

Given US Asians’ high involvement with the internet and with mobile, it is not surprising that they also have taken to the mobile internet in above-average numbers. eMarketer estimated in April that 45.1% will be mobile internet users this year (vs. 38.5% of the general population), and it forecasts a rise to 63.0% in 2016 (vs. 60.5%). Mobile usage of video is one of the attractions, to judge by Nielsen data for Q3 2011. Among mobile subscribers, Asians averaged 5 hours 47 minutes per month watching mobile video, vs. 3 hours 37 minutes for their white counterparts.

High as these numbers are, they don’t fully capture the degree to which digital life is valued by US Asians. Experian Simmons polling found a vivid illustration of this: Asians were twice as likely as internet users in general to say they “spend less time sleeping because of the internet.”

High online engagement does not mean US Asians are a wholly receptive digital marketing audience, however. The same survey reported Asians in the US have a demanding outlook on advertising, with a majority expecting it to be “entertaining,” according to the Experian Simmons polling. Then again, Experian also reported that they were slightly less likely than the total online population to say they “don’t like advertising in general” and to claim they were not swayed by it.

“The growing size and purchasing power of the US Asian population makes it an audience marketers can no longer afford to overlook,” said Dolliver. “For a digital marketer, the saving grace is that Asians are highly involved with the internet and mobile technology, in contrast with their comparatively tepid usage of old media.”


The full report, “US Asian Consumers: Examining a Growing and Varied Population,” also answers these key questions:

  • How big is the US Asian population, and what are the sizes of its distinct subgroups?
  • Are US Asians reachable in English?
  • To what degree do US Asians conform to the “model minority” stereotype in matters like income and education?
  • What are the patterns of US Asians’ usage of new and old media? How do they feel about the ads that reach them through these channels?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. Total Access clients, log in and view the report now.


Check out today’s other articles, “Paywall Resistance Softens When Content Is Right” and “Are Marketers Missing Multichannel Opportunities?

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