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Nielsen Report Finds Asian-American Consumers An Economic 'Driving Force'

Nielsen's annual Asian-American consumer report examines the trends and diversity within the Asian-American and Pacific Islander community.
The Nielsen Company

Nielsen released its fifth annual Asian-American consumer report today, the latest in the research company’s Diverse Intelligence series. The report, titled “Asian-Americans: Culturally Diverse and Expanding Their Footprint,” explores consumption patterns among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

Betty Lo, vice president of community alliances and consumer engagement, told NBC News that the increasing buying power and influence of the Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has caused marketers and companies to seek a better understanding of the community's culturally specific tastes and preferences.

“What is significant about the Asian-American community is that we’re culturally diverse, but we’re also expanding our influence and footprint across the U.S.,” she said.

The Nielsen Company

Highlights of the report include the finding that Asian-American buying power in the U.S. is currently at $825 billion, a number that is expected to increase to $1.1 trillion — 6.7 percent of total American buying power — by 2020.

In order to portray the diversity within the AAPI community, the Nielsen report disaggregates data where sample size is available, both by region and by ethnicity.

Lo acknowledged the challenges of reporting on the heavily diverse Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, and said that this year’s report focused particularly on a more nuanced view of how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders consume.

“I think the regional view really highlights the opportunity for marketers to understand the segment a little more in-depth,” she said. “[We’re] not painting our community with broad brushstrokes. There are some regional and ethnic nuances that marketers need to understand.”

Although it has only been five years since their inception, Nielsen’s Asian-American consumer reports have already made an impact on how companies perceive and connect with the AAPI community, Nielsen said. One example, cited in the report, is a 2011 Toyota ad campaign, which starred “South Korean actor and pan-Asian celebrity” Lee Min-ho and targeted Chinese, Vietnamese, and South Korean consumers in the United States.

The report’s users aren’t just limited to advertisers and marketers looking to sell products. Lo also noted that media clients have been applying insights from the reports to better connect with the AAPI community, particularly in casting. These clients include prominent programs such as ABC’s “Fresh Off The Boat,” “Dr. Ken,” and “Quantico.”

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Nielsen’s report also highlights the importance of Asian-American entrepreneurship to the U.S. economy. Asian-American businesses had the largest growth and sales increase of any ethnic group between 2007 and 2012, the report found.

“We know that the entrepreneur spirit of the Asian American community is contributing to the U.S. community,” said Lo. “That, combined with the buying power, is a real driving force within the U.S. economy.”

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