A Case of "AmnAsia"

Most businesses forget the Asian American market. Is it time to test your memory?
Magazine Contributor
2 min read

This story appears in the June 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

With almost 12 million people in the United States, Asians accounted for $254 billion in purchasing power in 2001, have the highest rate of education, and boast incomes exceeding those of Caucasians by more than $10,000 per household. Still, businesses consistently overlook them. Big mistake.

Not only have Asians become one of the nation's most attractive demographics, but their population is also growing at a rate of 49 percent, with the Vietnamese and Indian populations growing the fastest. Companies like Real Cosmetics are taking note. "There's really a need in the Nordstroms, Macy's and Sephoras of the world for a product that reaches a diverse range," says Lubna Khalid, 28, a Pakistani American ex-model who started her line of cosmetics for Asian and other minority women in 1999. Real Cosmetics launched its high-end cosmetics line in two East Coast Nordstroms in March and expects 2002 sales to exceed $150,000.

Though the U.S. Census' "Asian" category comprises more than 20 ethnic groups, six groups account for 90 percent of the population: Chinese, Filipino, South Asian (Indian and Pakistani), Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese. But marketing to Asians can't be generalized and boiled down to translation. Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans prefer media in their own language, while South Asians, Filipinos and Japanese are largely bilingual. Because many are immigrants, "even though they may be highly educated and extremely financially savvy, they may lack basic information about the products available in this country," says Saul Gitlin, an executive vice president with Kang and Lee, an advertising agency that targets Asian Americans.

Asians are largely entrepreneurial, so B2B services are in demand. They also value family, with three generations often living in the same house, so if your product relates to home and gardening or is family-oriented, you're well-positioned.

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