East Meets West

Asian Americans have money, Net savvy and entrepreneurial fire. Media magnate Jeff Yang explains how to tap both their talent and dollars.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the November 2000 issue of Entrepreneurs Start-Ups magazine. Subscribe »

Although Asian Americans make up just 4 percent of the U.S. population, they are the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group, expected to constitute 12 percent by 2020. In 1994, even before helping to lead the Internet explosion, the U.S. Census Bureau reports Asian Americans had average household incomes of $52,562, compared with $45,034 for white Americans. We asked Jeff Yang, 32, CEO of aMedia Inc. and publisher of aMagazine: Inside Asian America, which has a circulation of 200,000, about how to tap into this community.

Give us some insight into the major Asian American communities.

Chinese and Filipino are the largest groups, followed by [in order of size] Japanese, South Asian, Korean and Southeast Asian. Immigrants are more likely to identify with their ethnicities than with an Asian American identity; individuals born and educated in the U.S. are more likely to have pan-Asian affiliations. Chinese, Filipino and Japanese communities are the most established U.S. populations, while Korean, South Asian and Southeast Asian communities are mostly immigrant.

As far as marketers are concerned, Asian Americans have attractive demographics: higher median household incomes and education levels, ownership of businesses, and the likelihood of being employed as managers or professionals. They respond well to advertising, seeing it as an "invitation to buy," and are extremely loyal once they've made a brand selection.

And they're the most wired to the Internet?

According to Forrester Research, 69 percent of us are on the Web, the greatest percentage of any U.S. ethnic group. That's 7.6 million individuals who buy online, use the Internet for entertainment and product research, and engage in banking, brokerage and other financial transactions over the Web, more than any other group.

Can we use Asian American employees or business partners as a good way to reach the Asian market?

They usually have ties to relatives, friends and business associates in Asia, which has almost three-fifths the earth's population, so you can see us as the gateway to the world's largest market.

There's one category where Asian countries have a trade deficit in relation to the United States: media and information services...because Americans have exported their culture so effectively. One interesting aspect is that Asian Americans have won Oscars in four of the past six Academy Awards, all for works like short films and documentaries. Well, the very things that make these kinds of works unsuitable for commercial film distribution are also things that make them ideal for the Web. Combine that with the fact that Asian Americans are adopting broadband technologies faster than anyone else, and you [can see] a real opportunity.

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