As new frontiers emerge where Asian Americans are leading as consumers and creators/cultural influencers, there’s never been a better time for marketers to engage with the community, it was revealed May 18 during the digital launch of Nielsen’s 2020 Diverse Intelligence Series consumer report, ‘Engaging Asian-American Consumers at the Dawn of a New Decade.’       

The emergence of streaming services, the growth of Asian American-led content and the exponential rise of esports have all created new ways to cultivate affinity with this digitally-influential and tech-savvy community, according to the global measurement and data analytics company, which calculated that the Asian American consumer market currently stands at $1.2 trillion, with a buying power projected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2024.

According to the report, the mass adoption of new digital platforms and the popularity of inclusive content have helped attract and galvanize a national Asian American audience.

“Marketers should see this an opportunity to position yourself for growth in the future,” said Mariko Carpenter, Nielsen’s vice president of strategic community alliances. “I don’t think they need to be scared. There are all these areas where they can tap into to really connect with Asians Americans, whether it’s those niche digital platforms or sponsoring events or sponsoring an esports team…Think of it as any other market but when you look at the demographics, it’s certainly one that you would not want to discount by saying, ‘It’s so diverse, I don’t know what to do?”

She added that she hopes this report serves as a resource for marketers so that they can unpack the data and unlock the potential of this market.

During the hour-long webinar, Carpenter presented insights about Nielsen’s new consumer report, which documents how the rise of the Asian American population is impacting the cultural landscape of the U.S. more than ever before; how Asian Americans are pacesetters for new digital services and influencing trends important to all marketers; and how this rise in Asian American consciousness has created opportunities for marketers to engage with this community in an culturally relevant, impactful way.

The webinar included a panel discussion with Veena Goel Crownholm, Indian American lifestyle host, millennial mom and content creator; and Christine Cadena, vice president of diversity and inclusion for The Walt Disney Company.

The report states that Asian Americans are cutting the cord at a rate that is almost twice that of the total population; 82 percent subscribe to at least one streaming service; are big players in the gaming industry; and are 15 percent more likely to use social media for their news.

The report, which covers multiple aspects of Asian Americans as consumers, also notes that as more and more culturally relevant content becomes available on digital platforms, Asian Americans are gravitating more towards those platforms. This includes comedy specials like Indian American Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” on Netflix.

Asian American-led programs also boost popularity through social engagement, it adds. Minhaj’s show saw 4.7 times more social engagement than other Netflix series, Carpenter pointed out.

“That is very important in today discoverability of content because it’s the social media engagement that these Asian American viewers are doing which partially contributes to a higher video popularity score which then feeds the algorithms that actually decide which content to recommend for a viewer,” she said. “We know from our own viewing habits that all the ones that come up on the top as recommendations are the ones we end up watching because we end up discovering those.”

Underscoring their growing power in the video games industry, the report notes that Asian Americans are 14 percent more likely to own a gaming console and 37 percent more likely to own Virtual Reality headsets that are mainly used for gaming, adding that they are 84 percent more likely to play multi-player online games. These gamers are also younger, with 69 percent of them falling between the 13-34 age-group versus only 44 percent of U.S. gamers. Over one-in-four Asian American gamers said they watched an esports tournament live stream in the last three months and 53 percent of gamers said they have watched three hours or more of esports in a typical week.

Asian Americans are also engaging more on TV-connected devices that require an internet connection, for example, Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku – 49 percent versus 44 percent of the total population.

In order to reach out to the Asian American population, marketers need to have a “bottoms up” approach, said Carpenter.

“You start with a cultural understanding, the heritage, the family, the values, the things that actually influence our behavior,” she explained. “Then you layer on the data, of what they like, our preference and then put together a holistic plan depending on your brand.”

Asian American influencers like Crownholm, said Carpenter, are huge and are capturing the attention of big brands because they know how to deeply connect with a sizeable audience.

Crownholm, who was crowned Miss California in 2004 and is half Chinese and half Indian, spoke about the importance of celebrating one’s culture and heritage.

“I think it’s really important to share all of you and sometimes, your content is received really well by people that are following you, and sometimes, it’s not,” said Crownholm. “I think it’s more important to showcase the whole picture of who you are as a person and the things that are important to you. My heritage is very important to me. I didn’t realize how important that was until I competed at Miss America as Miss California. I was the first Indian who had walked across that stage. It was such a big deal in India and to all the little Indian girls because for the first time, they imagined themselves on that stage; being able to dream that dream and since that day I found it to be a little bit of responsibility to share who I am. Hopefully, I can break some small glass ceilings and help other girls and boys dream a little bit bigger.”

When it comes to engaging the Asian American community via influencer campaigns, Crownholm said marketeers/brands need to understand that America is a diverse country.

“The most important thing is to make sure who we are in America which is a melting pot; a little bit of everything… that way you can get your brand out to so many different cultures and new people and a larger audience. It’s not about staying pigeonholed in one area but being very diverse.”

Walt Disney, which has been at the forefront of producing diversified content to include Asian Americans, lays emphasis on authenticity, said Cadena, while talking about the hit Indian-inspired Disney show, “Mira, Royal Detective.”

“The secret sauce is being authentic and culturally specific but being universal in the themes, said Cadena, adding that they have announced three new episodes around Asian Pacific American Heritage Month which will continue to air throughout the summer.

“Our filmmakers always start by connecting with the community that it represents first…making sure they feel represented onscreen in an authentic way and working with the right representatives from the community to make sure those elements are reflected. That quite frankly, helps enrich the story,” noted Cadena. “If you think about ‘Mira, Royal Detective,’ they really took the time to explore the nuances of the Indian community. The country is vast in terms of cultural nuance. Through a deep connection with that community, being able to take that connection and expand it for the broad audience; you have to do both.”

Cadena added: “These stories not only deeply connect with audiences in all countries but across generations…the responsibility and the care that is taken in making sure that they explore specific cultures in an authentic way but more importantly, create those heroes that are lasting and persistent and so for us, we see this as a great responsibility and an incredible opportunity to share a culture that you might not know.”

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