Tag Archives: Asian American marketing

Asian American growth in the South – A reflection on the election of Hongbin Guo as Chapel Hill city council member

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News coverage of this November elections has focused on how Democrats fared in the first tests of Trump’s impact. Something else close to home also caught my attention. Hongbin Gu, a UNC associate professor and immigrant from China, was elected as a Chapel Hill town council member with the highest number of votes among the candidates (6116 votes). In fact, more than 50% of those who voted casted a vote for her (voter turnout was 10193, as reported in http://www.orangecountync.gov/departments/board_of_elections/voter_turnout_statistics.php). Her election was a surprise to me, to her, and all her supporters as well. Although Chapel Hill is a college town, it is after all part of the South which is more socially conservative than the rest of the country. Chinese residents account for a mere 2.8% of the Orange County population (3905 out of 138644). Estimate of eligible voters of Chinese origin are 1103 (3905 * 0.73 [% of Orange County population who are adults] *0.79 [% of adult Asians who are foreign born] * 0.49 [% of Asian residents who are naturalized] = 1103). So Hongbin Gu couldn’t have been elected with Chinese voters’ support alone. When I saw her signs while driving, I wondered how voters would embrace a candidate with a foreign sounding name. My concern was apparently not necessary. And Orange County voters proved that they are more open-minded than I thought.

 

For me, Hongbin Gu’s election exemplifies two things: One, the awakening of Asian Americans and their increasing participation in public affairs and advocacy; and secondly, the growing numbers and influence of Asian Americans in the south.

 

For Hongbin Gu’s campaign, the entire Chinese community in Chapel Hill was mobilized to raise funds, distribute flyers door to door, and staff event booths and ballot stops on election day. A WeChat group was created for the campaign to coordinate volunteers. Based on my casual observation, Hongbin Gu’s campaign was more organized and better staffed than other candidates. In addition to her own leadership and capability, I think another very important reason for her win is that Asian Americans increasingly realized the importance of civic participation and having a voice in public affairs, and they threw all their support behind someone who can represent them. Nationwide, AAPI Data counted over 30 AAPI candidates that were newly elected or re-elected to office in this election.

 

Regarding population trends, North Carolina is one of the states with the fastest growth of Asian Americans. Asian population in the state grew 85% from 2000 to 2010. Hmart opened its first NC store in Cary at the end of 2016. In the beginning of 2017, the First Chapel Hill LIGHTUP Lantern Festival drew close to 10,000 in attendance at University Place, a mall at the heart of Chapel Hill. Due to the overwhelming reception of the event, the event is moving to a larger venue, Friday Center, for 2018. Raleigh also saw its first Korean festival at the beginning of 2017.

 

Implications

Here are a few thoughts for marketers interested in the Asian American market:

 

Asian American marketing should go beyond traditional markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York. While these markets still have the highest concentration of Asian Americans, they only account for part of the Asian American market.

 

Digital media can be leveraged to geo-target Asian Americans wherever they are. Mainstream platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, and more niche platforms such as WeChat (particularly popular among Chinese) and Whatsapp (particularly popular among Indians) offer great opportunities for display ads and content marketing to increase awareness and build relationships. While digital media are powerful platforms, great care needs to be taken in ad placement. I have seen Spanish ads placed in the middle of Chinese language drama on YouTube, which is clearly a waste of money.

 

Lastly, traditional media still important. According to Reaching the Fastest Growing Consumer in a Digital World by the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF), 80% of Asian Americans watch TV and 52% listen to radio on a daily basis. Newspaper is an importance source for local news. Asian Americans often pick up free in-language newspapers at Asian supermarkets and read in-language news on mobile apps or the Internet.

 

Hongbin Gu announcing her campaign

Challenges and opportunities in Asian American media – a reflection of the 3AF media roundtable discussion

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I recently had the opportunity to attend a media roundtable discussion hosted by the Asian American Advertising Federation and sponsored by AARP at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles on Nov. 2, 2017. Going into the roundtable discussion with the news of the closing of New American Media (a multimedia ethnic news media and a coalition of ethnic media founded in 1996 by the nonprofit Pacific News Service) and the cancellation of international format by LA Channel 18 earlier this year, I was not expecting much. The discussion of challenges facing the Asian American marketing industry reflected broader trends in media and advertising.  These include the decrease in spending in traditional media; ethnic media’s struggle to attract younger, U.S.-born users while at the same time retaining their core first generation immigrant audience; the challenge to fight never ending piracy in video content; and a lack of understanding of the climate of Asian American marketing at the brand level.

 

However, there are some bright spots. Saavn, a digital distributor of Indian music globally, has successfully switched from a free service to a paid subscription service and is now available on iTunes and Alexa. Apple Daily, a Hong Kong-based newspaper which expanded to the United States in recent years, is able to garner 20 million unique users and 80 million page views on a daily basis. It distributes news digitally via geo-targeting apps, leveraging on content produced in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It also has a U.S.-based team generating unique domestic content. Thirdly, traditional radio is experiencing a renaissance in the Vietnamese community, so much so that Viet TV recently launched a 24/7 radio station in Houston. Their success suggests that there are opportunities for ethnic media to prosper when they find the right niche and deliver content on an appropriate platform for the target audience.

 

The discussion also touched on the challenge of a lack of standard measurement for Asian media. Only a handful of Asian media subscribe to the Nielsen rating service or can afford an audit. I agree that it would be beneficial to have standard measures to help marketers measure campaign effectiveness and ROI. However, I think it’s only meaningful to a certain extent. Marketers certainly need media measurement to make a business case for their spending. But numbers don’t tell the entire story. I reflect on my own media usage. I use mostly mainstream media such as the Wall Street Journal and Business Week. News from Asia for me comes primarily from Facebook and WeChat forwards and commentary from friends. I only pick up a Chinese newspaper when I visit the local Asian supermarket once or twice a month. Entertainment is a mixed bag of Asian and mainstream content from Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube. For me, the use of ethnic media is not about frequency, it’s about emotional and cultural connection.  That’s perhaps why Danny Wong, a Chinese American born in the U.S., decided to launch Sky Link TV (a 24/7 Chinese satellite TV station in the US) in 2015. He said at the media roundtable that although he is a U.S. native, he wants to see programming that reflects his cultural background. That said, further research is needed to evaluate the role of ethnic media and effectiveness of advertising among Asian Americans.

3AF 2017 media roundtable group selfie

 

3AF 2017 media roundtable

Asian American business owners represent significant opportunities for business service providers

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ASIAN CAFE OWNER/WORKER BEHIND COUNTER

According to the newly released inaugural annual survey of entrepreneurs by the Census, more than half of the minority-owned firms with paid employees were Asian-owned.

 

This represents great opportunities for companies that provide services to business owners such as financial institutions, shipping, software/cloud, etc.

 

The proposed EB6 startup visa, if passed, will likely accelerate growth of immigration and business ownership for this particular population given that China and India send the highest number of international students to the U.S. annually.

 

A few things that marketers should keep in mind when reaching out to Asian American business owners:

1) 2/3 of Asian Americans are foreign born, they face unique challenges in language barrier, navigating through regulations and healthcare systems, and having credit history to obtain credit lines or loans.

2) Asian Americans are highly concentrated in a few states and metro areas, where share of business ownership exceeds share of population.

3) Asian Americans are relationship oriented, particularly when it comes to business. Marketers need to take the time to understand the target’s unique needs and build relationship with them.

Why WeChat should be part of your social media strategy and marketing mix, and why you should care

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By Iris Yim

 

Although WeChat is relatively unknown in the U.S., it has close to 550 million actively monthly users and has become the default social media and a cultural and social phenomenon in China in the short amount of time since its launch in 2011.

 

WeChat is a messaging app developed and owned by Tencent which also owns another popular messaging service in China – QQ.  It’s essentially a messaging app with which you can make free voice and video calls and leave voice and text messages but it also has “Moments” which is similar to a Facebook wall where you can see the updates of your contacts and the content they share.  So it’s like a combination of Whatsapp + Facebook.  It’s easy to set up a group chat to interact with friends and family or a group of people with similar interests.

 

Here are some interesting statistics of WeChat:

– Percentage of Internet users in China that use WeChat – 65%

– Number of registered WeChat accounts – 1.1 billion

– Average amount of time Chinese adults spend on WeChat daily – over 40 minutes

– Percentage of users that open it more than 10 times a day – 55.2%

 

So WeChat is the default social media in China, so what?  Why and how does it concern marketers in the U.S?  You may ask.  It’s true with all its marketing efforts to expand in the U.S., WeChat has barely made a dent in the social media market in this country which is dominated by Facebook.  Latest statistics suggest only 2% mobile Internet users in the US that use WeChat on a monthly basis.  However, if you’re targeting Asian Americans, you will need to pay attention to WeChat and here is why.

 

– Chinese is the largest segment of the Asian American population and 70% of them are foreign born.  They have friends and family in China who all use WeChat and the immigrant himself will be enticed to sign up as well.

– There are 274,439 Chinese international students in the U.S. for the school year of 2013-2014 who all use WeChat to keep in touch with friends and family at home and fellow Chinese international students in the U.S.

– Then not to mention the tens of thousands of Chinese tourists who visit the U.S. and shopping is an essential item on the itinerary.  Last year, 1.8 million Chinese tourists visited America and spent a whopping $21.1 billion. The number of visitors from China to the U.S. is expected to rise to 3.1 million in 2019.  And they use WeChat to share information on merchandise, deals and brands with friends and family.  Many of them are on a shopping mission to not only shop for themselves but also shop for friends and family.

 

For Chinese who live in the U.S., WeChat provides a platform to bring the community together to share news, interests, concerns and bond with each other.  Some large group chats have hundreds of active participants.  News travels fast among these group chats and the community will be galvanized into action in a very short amount of time.

 

On May 15, 2015, when a coalition of Asian American groups announced a complaint against Harvard on discriminating Asian Americans for admission at a press conference, one of the attendees sent pictures, videos and reporting of the press conference to his WeChat group chat and these messages, pictures and videos were redistributed to the numerous group chat across the U.S.  The Chinese community learnt about the news of the complaint hours before mainstream media’s report on the complaint against Harvard.

 

Given WeChat’s influence on the Chinese community in the U.S., politicians and community organizations are taking notes.  I have seen Hilary Clinton’s ad on WeChat recruiting Chinese staff and volunteers for her campaign.  Recently, a police department in Flushing, NY, established a public WeChat account to communicate with and better serve the Chinese community in the area.  However, brands in the U.S. are largely missing in action.

 

Given that China is the number one source of new immigrants, the number one source of international students to the U.S. and the whopping spending power of Chinese tourists, WeChat is an effective way to reach these target groups and should part of your social media strategy and marketing mix.

 

Here is an example of the marketing power of WeChat

A friend of mine shared a blog post on “Moments” by an entertainment news blogger about the shoes the female lead wears in the latest Jurassic Park movie.  It has an interesting and humorous twist to it.  It comments on how the female lead miraculously outruns the dinosaurs in those shoes and why every girl should have a pair of shoes like that so that they can win the race of life.  It goes on to talk about the brand and designer of the shoes.  The result?  I went on Amazon.com to order a pair for myself!!

 

WeChat Bazaar blog Jurassic World WeChat Bazaar blog Jurassic World 2 WeChat Bazaar blog Sam Edelman shoes  WeChat Bazaar blog Sam Edelman shoes 2