How Marketers Can Observe Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Census Data Show 43% Population Growth of Demographic in the U.S

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May marks Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, a time when all Americans commemorate and celebrate the myriad of contributions and achievements made by Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

First legislated in 1977 by Reps. Frank Horton and Norman Mineta, and Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Spark Matsunaga, the first 10 days of May were proclaimed Asian-Pacific Heritage Week in the U.S. to recognize the first wave of immigrants from Japan and the completion of the transcontinental railroad by a team of workers comprised mainly of Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. The full month of May officially became designated as Asian Pacific American Heritage Month when it was signed into law in 1992.

Now with the recent 2010 Census data showing an astonishing 43% population growth of Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in the U.S. within the last decade, it seems fitting that we, as advertisers and marketers, observe Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.

Here are some compelling statistics that are too important to ignore:

  • More than 15 million Asian and Pacific Islander American consumers.

  • Asian and Pacific Islander Americans represent 5% of the total U.S. population.

  • Asian and Pacific Islander American consumers have $544 billion in spending clout per annum. (That's more than a majority of European countries, such as Austria, Belgium, Demark, Finland, Greece, Ireland, Norway, Portugal and Sweden.) And this figure will grow significantly each and every year.

  • Asian American populations have grown significantly, from 2000 to 2010, outside of key metropolitan areas, including Arizona (91%), Delaware (76%), Georgia (82%); Nevada (a whopping 116%), New Hampshire (79%) and North Carolina (84%).

  • Asian Americans now (conservatively) represent 13% of California's population; 39% of Hawaii's population; 8% of New Jersey's population' 7% of New York's population; 4% of Texas' population; and, 5% of Illinois' population. (However, keep in mind that Hawaii has a large mixed-race population who are clearly in the majority of that state.)
These are some of the key statistical details being revealed from the 2010 Census. However, equally important is the need for more people-to-people engagement between Asian Americans, Pacific Islander Americans and other Americans of all backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures. In order to encourage more interaction that will result in a greater understanding of how Asian and Pacific Islander Americans have contributed to the U.S., I recommend the following simple steps:
  • Celebrate and recognize the contributions of Asian and Pacific Islander American employees. Employees are a company's most valuable asset; therefore, by recognizing their contributions, you'll be setting an example for all employees to follow.

  • Recognize Asian and Pacific Islander American civic leaders for their support and contributions to the community and to your company.

  • Immerse yourselves in Asian and Pacific Islander American cultures. By learning what makes these consumers unique, you'll also discover how they contribute to the mosaic that we call America.

  • Engage in meaningful dialogue with traditional and non-traditional Asian and Pacific Islander American media, now numbering more than 1,200 nationwide, to learn more about what they cover and how they operate. Discover why more than two-thirds of all Asian and Pacific Islander Americans trust their own media to deliver genuine, culturally relevant news information.

  • Establish and support an Asian and Pacific Islander American employee resource group at your company or agency to find new talent, instill leadership skills, create mentorship programs, promote cultural exchanges, and discover business opportunities.

  • Hire an outside speaker of Asian and/or Pacific Islander American heritage to offer a talk about their community to your staff.

  • Patronize an Asian American or Pacific Islander American arts institution, museum and/or community center to learn more about these communities.

  • Dispatch your Asian and Pacific Islander American managers, directors and senior leadership team to serve as volunteers for nonprofit groups that serve the Asian and Pacific Islander American communities. (Ask me for suggestions!)

  • Advertise and promote your products, services and philanthropic activities to Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans to let them know that you value them as consumers.

  • Attend one of the many Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebrations that will be occurring throughout the country. There are celebrations in nearly every major city in the U.S. A quick search online will help you discover the celebration closest to you.
For more information about Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, visit:

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