Nielsen Measures the Depth of a Burgeoning Asian-American Market

A New Report Pools Data from Various Studies on the Fastest Growing Multicultural Segment

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The Nielsen Co. has released a new report focusing on Asian-American consumers. I interviewed Nielsen SVP of Government and Public Affairs Don Lowery about the company's findings. Here is what he revealed.

Q. Seeing a Nielsen report on Asian Americans is a clear indication that this consumer segment is important to the company and to your subscribers. How was the research was compiled? And, what are two or three of the key findings?

A. This report is part of Nielsen's Diverse Intelligence Series, which includes separate reports on what Asian Americans, African Americans and Hispanics watch and buy. While Nielsen has for years collected data on consumer behavior in these communities, this is the first time we have compiled this information in a single report, which makes it much more accessible. Most of the information reported was taken from our media and consumer-packaged-goods panels and surveys that look at activities of all consumers. We supplemented this with data from outside sources, including the U.S. Census.

The most important takeaway is that the Asian-American market is powerful and offers major opportunities for advertisers, marketers and their media and consumer clients. There were three key findings that we think would be of particular interest to advertisers and marketers: 1) Asian Americans are the fastest growing multicultural segment in the nation, 2) The buying power of the Asian-American market is $718 billion and is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2017, and 3)The median income of Asian-American households is 28% higher than the average household income nationally.

Q. Nielsen created an advisory council of media, agency and civic leaders from the Asian-American community. What role have they played in developing the consumer-market report?

A. Our External Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Council members were key to the creation of the report and were directly involved in reviewing the content. Since it was created seven years ago, the Council has continually encouraged Nielsen to provide more robust information on the viewing and purchasing habits of Asian Americans. The Council was aware that Nielsen had a trove of data on Asian-American viewing and buying habits within the larger sets of data that the company collected, and suggested that this information be identified and disaggregated. Our Measurement Science and other departments did pull out the data and it is the foundation of the report. The Council members also offered critical suggestions on the content, including making sure that the report recognized various cultural nuances.

Q. Were there any data points and/or statistics that surprised you? If so, what stands out in the report?

A. The tremendous population growth in the Asian-American community over the past decade and the economic success among Asian American are two of the major data points that we believe will garner significant attention from advertisers and marketers who read the report and who previously have not focused on the Asian-American market.

Q. Nielsen issued similar market reports for the African-American/black consumer market and the Hispanic/Latino market. Have you found any similarities between these consumer markets?

A. The population and income growth in all multicultural communities are among the most significant similarities found in these individual markets. Another important similarity is that multicultural communities are early adopters of new technologies and over-index in their use of these technological innovations. We see this most vividly demonstrated in the area of social media where its use within the multicultural segments outpaces its use in the overall general market.

Q. Clearly media consumption habits change daily, even hourly. What does the report reveal about Asian-American viewing habits?

A. Asian Americans watch 100 hours of television monthly, which is the lowest amount among all segments. However, Asian Americans watch almost 10 hours of video on the Internet each month, about double the amount watched by non-Hispanic whites. Asian Americans also watch more video on mobile devices than whites, five hours and 12 minutes a month, compared to four hours and 51 minutes for whites.

Q. The U.S. Asian consumer market is diverse and complex. How has Nielsen addressed the diversity of this consumer market in its research?

A. Once we collected all of the data, our Council emphasized the need to go beyond the facts that we gathered and look into the cultural issues advertisers and marketers should be aware of in reaching this multicultural segment. For example, 77 percent of Asian Americans speak a language other than English at home, which suggests their language of comfort or preference. To effectively reach the majority of this market, it's imperative for marketers to utilize an Asian-language and/or Asian cultural media to convey culturally tailored messages that can resonate with the Asian-American audience.

Three years ago, Nielsen's Asian Pacific Islander Advisory Council worked with our Measurement Science team to examine how we could better recruit Asian Americans for our panels and surveys and how to improve their participation. The result of that project was that Nielsen, for the first time, produced its recruiting and panel support materials in several Asian languages. Nielsen also established a policy that our membership representatives who work most closely with the members of our panel should be able to speak the language spoken in the panel home.

Q. Why is this report being offered for free?

A. It is important for advertising and marketing professionals to be aware of this timely and pertinent data. Furthermore, we believe that business, community, and special-interest group leaders among others in the Asian American community and in the general market should be aware of the economic power of this multicultural segment and the opportunity it offers.

Q. Has any of the data been shared with Nielsen's clients and if so, what's been the reaction?

A. Nielsen featured this report in a webinar on October 30 and attracted more than 800 participants for the session. There is strong client and industry interest in this segment.

Bill Imada is chairman-CEO of the IW Group, New York.
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