Nielsen’s Asian American Study Results Revealed

By Charlene Weisler

According to Nielsen, the Asian American market is an evolving mix of ages, English fluency and family composition where purchasing behavior is often technologically driven, non-linear and a family-based consideration. Mariko Carpenter, VP of Strategic Community Alliance, Nielsen, presented the results of their recent Asian American research study, focusing this year on consumer behavior.

Among the highlights of the research,

  1. Technology and its use impact a range of behaviors. “Asian Americans are early adopters of technology,” Carpenter explained. “When we look at devices and platforms that are on the rise, Asian Americans over-index. Over time, the rest of the U.S. population catches up to us.” In addition to being ahead of the curve technologically, Asian Americans also “tend to move on,” from older technology. “Currently we under-index in DVRs, for example,” she noted. This group also has very high reach on a range of devices and how these devices are being used – from entertainment where they can find content that is more relevant to them and banking, travel booking, shopping and trying a new app – all at a far faster pace than the general population. Notably, this behavior transcends age.


  1. Mega Apps such as WeChat, which enables users to conduct a range of tasks from content consumption to banking to shopping, are very popular in China and are being used by Asian Americans in the U.S. These mega apps are projected to further expand in use here. “Integration is key for multi-purpose apps and this generates more usage. WeChat allows for US brands to advertise in it,” Carpenter explained, giving advertisers an opportunity to reach these Chinese Americans.


  1. Asian American behaviors, based on nativity, vary greatly by generation. Younger Asians tend to be U.S. born and are less connected to Asian culture while older generations tend to be foreign-born. This impacts language preference and the ability to navigate in American society. In addition, the Asian American market is not monolithic. Similar to Hispanics, there are great differences based on country of origin. “The Asian American community has the highest wealth disparity of any group,” Carpenter noted. With representation from more than two dozen countries, “subsets range from the highest levels of wealth to refugees with the lowest – close to poverty lines.”     


  1. As a group, Asian American have great buying power with $1.0 trillion spent in 2018, a 68% gain over 2010 compared to 32% for the general population. Advertisers should focus on providing a satisfy purchasing experience with a choice of familiar brands, good brand alignment with values and environmental responsibility, high quality with a trusted brand and the feeling that their money is well spent.


This study, currently in its third year, is one of three ethnic annual studies by Nielsen, along with African American and Hispanic consumer groups.

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