ASIAN INDIANS IN U.S. FORM LUCRATIVE MARKET

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An article in Advertising Age, "Marketers straddle Asia-America curtain," caught my eye. While I support any effort to bring the still largely untapped potential of the Asian-American market to corporate America's attention, I was disappointed by the minimal mention of Asian Indians. Except for a comment indicating they constitute 12% of this market (the fourth largest group of Asian-Americans), they were invisible.

Mr. Raju is editor and publisher of India Abroad, New York, described as the most widely circulated Indian publication outside India.

This surprises me, because the Indian market is the most affluent of all. The media family income for Indians as of 1990 was $44,696, or about 49% higher than American households at large.

Indians are almost three times as likely as the American population as a whole to have a bachelor's degree or higher-58.1% vs. 20.3%. They also tend to work in high-level positions, with nearly 77% holding managerial, professional, technical, sales or administrative jobs, compared to 58.1% for the general population.

Couple such a desirable market with the low costs of ethnic media and it is clear that this is a missed opportunity for many corporations.

Usually, when trying to persuade companies to consider advertising in India Abroad, we are greeted with two objections:

1. We can reach them through standard media.

Because so many Indians speak English, I suspect that Indian media are confronted with this objection more than other Asian media. You can incidentally reach the Indian population with mass-market advertising, but that doesn't mean they will accept or even register your message. The value of cultural adaptation should not be underestimated. Brand loyalty can be earned provided companies take the time to establish relationships with Indian communities.

2. It's not a large enough audience to make it worthwhile.

There are roughly 1 million Indians in the U.S., not a huge market-yet. But the Indian population in the U.S. has been doubling about every ten years, and immigration trends indicate this pattern will continue at an increasing rate.

In spite of these swelling numbers, many companies seem to be waiting for some unknown population threshold to be crossed before investing in the Indian market. In the meantime, slightly bolder competitors who venture in will earn the loyalty of this market and become firmly entrenched.

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