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Connectivity Drives the Asian American Consumer Journey

7 minute read | May 2019

Asian Americans are among the most digitally enabled and tech-adopting consumers in the country–and that plays a big role in how this group is influenced, engages with brands, seeks out information makes purchase decisions and ultimately decides which products and services to buy. This process is often described as the path to purchase. Brands able to connect with Asian American consumers along this path can form mutually beneficial relationships with a powerful consumer group, while also peeking around the corner at the future of consumption among all consumers.

There’s never been an easier time for marketers to engage with consumers. At the same time, however, the availability of technology and access to it means there’s also never been as much competition to reach consumers as there is today.

Compared with as few as 10 years ago, digital technology didn’t factor into the consumer’s path-to-purchase the way it does now. Whether it be through recommendations from friends across social media, personalized ads we see when watching subscription video on-demand (SVOD) services or promotions that land in our inboxes because our favorite e-tailer remembered our birthday, digital touchpoints are everywhere. And they’re virtually screaming at us to get—and maintain—our attention.

And while most Americans juggle several devices and actively contribute to the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data humans create each day, not everyone is moving full speed ahead with digital connectivity. Thus, when brands look at the various consumer groups that comprise their market, they’re looking for consumers they can reach with personalized messages that resonate across the many devices consumers use to watch content and keep in touch with family and friends. And with Asian Americans, brands can get a glimpse at the future of consumption.


Before looking into this group’s specific tech behavior, it’s important to know how fast the Asian American population is growing, as well as how much spending power it has—and will have going forward. Notably, Asian Americans have grown in population by 7 million people in the last decade alone, the most of any ethnic or racial group in the U.S. That increase represents a 45% uptick, significantly outpacing the 8% growth of the total U.S. population.

In addition to growing as a demographic, Asian American households are markedly bigger than the U.S. average—17% bigger, in fact. Their greater household size contributes to Asian Americans’ household income. In fact, Asian American households boast the highest incomes of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S.—incomes that have boosted the buying power of Asian Americans by 68% since 2010. And it’s not going to slow down: We expect Asian Americans’ buying power to increase to $1.3 trillion by 2023.


There are many ways that marketers can engage with consumers, but when it comes to engaging with Asian Americans, marketers should be focused on digital channels. As a group, Asian Americans are very connected: 99% of Asian American households have internet connectivity, which is 6 percentage points higher than the U.S. average of 93%. Asian Americans are also more likely than the total population to own a variety of devices, which allows these consumers to stay connected at home and on the go. For instance 89% have a computer, which is 13% more likely than the total population and 97% own a smartphone, which is 6% more likely than the total population.

Because Asian Americans are so connected, the overall reach of internet-connected devices among them is 22% higher than among the general public. For example, Asian Americans are 21% more likely to watch a video on a computer than the general public and they are 24% more likely to use social media networks on a computer.

Given this demographic’s connected lifestyles, it should come as no surprise that Asian Americans’ usage of internet-connected devices outpaces the average U.S. consumer. It’s also worth noting that the reach of traditional media like television and TV-connected devices is less among Asian Americans than it is among the general public.

For the percentages tab, read as: all forms of television content reach 78% of Asian Americans each week.For the index tab, read as: Asian Americans are 13% less likely than the general population to be reached by all forms of television content each week. Source: 3Q 2018 Total Audience Report

While Asian Americans aren’t as engaged with traditional TV as the general public, they are playing a starring role in leading the connected TV revolution. While total TV usage among Asian Americans lags the general population (78% vs. 90%), these consumers spend nearly 23 hours each week with TV—but for them, watching “TV” doesn’t mean they’re tuned into regularly scheduled programming from a cable or satellite provider.

In addition to providing consumers with an ever-growing bevy of content options, screens across devices are critical touchpoints for marketers to connect with engaged consumers. And when we look at advertising preferences, Asian Americans say that mobile and web ads provide the most meaningful messages about what other consumers are buying, where the bargains are, and what new products and services are available.

An overwhelming 91% of Asian Americans agree with the statement “The Internet is a great way to gather information on products/services I’m considering purchasing.” That said, advertising isn’t the only way to engage this group. marketers consider their media mix options, it’s important that they consider earned and paid media to convey their brand messages.


But advertisements aren’t the only way to reach Asian American consumers. Given their devotion to technology and devices, it’s no surprise that Asian Americans significantly outpace the general population when it comes to using social media along their purchase journeys.

Given their fondness for social media, Asian Americans are eager to use their voices to provide feedback about the products and services they buy. In fact, they’re 9% more likely than the general population to agree with the statement, “I like to share my opinions about products and services by posting reviews and ratings online.” They’re also 6% more likely to be sought after to provide feedback to others who are considering making a purchase.

From an actual purchasing perspective, shopping online is heaven for digital natives. And while Asian Americans love online shopping, the experience isn’t solely about the end purchase. Yes, 87% have made an online purchase over the past 12 months, which means Asian Americans are 22% more likely to do so than the general population. Perhaps more importantly, online shopping offers Asian Americans a sense of cultural connection. That’s because e-commerce provides easy access to products from all over Asia—products that are either native to consumers’ countries of heritage or difficult to find in the U.S. In fact, 73% of Asian Americans agree with the statement “I use the Internet to buy hard-to-find products.”

In addition to providing access to culturally rich products, e-commerce contributes to the fabric of U.S. culture. Through their shopping, Asian Americans are introducing new trends to the U.S. mainstream, which is why Japanese snack box subscriptions and Korean baby seats are trending among U.S. non-Asians across the country. It’s also why general market sales of Asian sauces and condiments each grew 6% last year.

As tech-enabled, digitally vocal influencers with immense potential, Asian Americans are at the forefront of a consumption and shopping revolution in the U.S. With a wealth of unique motivators stemming from heritage derived in more than two dozen countries and an even greater diversity of cultures, understanding Asian American consumers’ as expert navigators between the influences of their native cultures and mainstream American culture is vital to building authentic brand connections.

The path to purchase—or consumer journey—illustrates how people shop as a sequence of events whereby demand is connected to what consumers actually buy. For years, the path to purchase has been viewed as a straight line. Today, it’s anything but straight. And for Asian Americans, the starting point is typically a device or online portal. Brick-and-mortar outlets are still a key stepping stone alone Asian Americans’ paths-to-purchase, but they’re intermixed with myriad other experiences that have created somewhat of a circular path-to-purchase for this group of growing and economically influential consumers.

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