Gen-1.5 offers key to segment

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They came to the U.S. as children, towed by their immigrant parents. Market researchers are beginning to dub them the 1.5 generation, or "the forgotten generation."

The 1.5 term usually describes Asian-Americans, says Wanla Cheng, principal of specialty shop Asia Link Consulting Group, but she believes the concepts apply readily to other immigrant groups.

75% OF NICHE

Ms. Cheng says an estimated 75% of the more than 10 million U.S. Asian-Americans are considered Generation 1.5.

Marketing effectively to them means understanding their cultural values and behavior, Ms. Cheng contends and notes, "They are the key to understanding the Asian-American psyche."

Research conducted by Asia Link indicates this group of consumers tend to cling to their native culture to maintain their cultural identity.

"They may speak English without an accent, but when you delve deeper, in some ways they're even more `Asian' than the first-generation because they want to preserve their traditions and cultures as much as possible," she says.

LANGUAGE MATTERS

An important factor in reaching them is marketing to them in their own language and media.

"Studies show that when targeted in their own language, they listen and respond," says Ms. Cheng. "Only about 20% of Asian-Americans relate to mainstream advertising. About 80% of direct-mail pieces that are culture-sensitive won't go in the garbage; they get noticed.

"This is a really untapped market," she argues, "because it's virtually been ignored by marketers."

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