Asian Americans

Marketers in other categories have identified the potential with this group of smart and well-off consumers, but candy marketers still have the opportunity to make some inroads.
They’re educated, they’re affluent, and their numbers are growing rapidly. Who wouldn’t want to target Asian American consumers?
Lots of companies, it turns out, including most candy marketers.
“The confection category hasn’t been active in the Asian market,” contends Saul Gitlin, executive vice president, Kang & Lee Advertising, a New York City-based marketing consulting/communications agency that specializes in marketing to Asian Americans. “There is not a chocolate bar manufacturer out there that is speaking to Asians at all,” Gitlin continues.  
Marketers are scared off by the fact that the U.S. Asian population is so segmented—comprised of Chinese, Filipino, Asian Indian, Vietnamese, Korean and Japanese subsets, among others. But that shouldn’t be a deterrent, says Gitlin.
Values and cultural observances vary from one Asian nationality to the next, but there are significant commonalties among the various subsets. This means that a marketer can come up with single, “pan-Asian” marketing/advertising execution that can be adapted for each sub-group. “It is rare that a client comes to us and says, ‘I have such an abundant budget, let’s do six different executions,” says Gitlin.
In addition, the Asian American population is geographically concentrated, so a marketer can target them relatively easily. More than half  (51 percent) of Asian Americans live in three states—California, New York and Texas, according to Census 2000. In California, 12 percent of the population is Asian.
Another boon to targeting is the fact that the vast majority of U.S. Asians are foreign-born, and prefer to see and hear marketing messages in their native languages.
That’s good news because in-language media buys are efficient and very cost-effective; rates are much lower than in the mainstream media. Just $100 will buy a 60-second prime-time radio spot in a key Asian market, for example.
“The barrier to entry from a cost perspective is very low, and the potential payoff is very great,” says Gitlin.
The Lunar New Year—a holiday observed by Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean people —provides a good marketing opportunity for candy makers, Gitlin notes.
Red is the color of good fortune for the Chinese. Thus, says Gitlin, “It could make sense for M&M [Masterfoods] to come out with a package of all red M&M’s with an Asian motif on the package.”
Or, he continues, Hershey might apply its limited edition marketing expertise to the Asian segment by rolling out a white chocolate-covered Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ornamented with a red dragon—an Asian symbol of good fortune, wisdom and generosity.
Getting distribution in retail chains that cater to Asian consumers such as the Ranch 99 chain in California is another key part of an Asian-American outreach strategy.
Taking it to the next level would mean formulating products designed to appeal specifically to Asian taste buds. Ice cream makers have developed green tea, red bean and ginger flavor varieties, and candy makers might do the same.
Finally, it should be noted that since Asian consumers have a strong preventive health orientation, this segment of the market might be ripe for targeting with functional confections. n
Measuring the Market
Population Size: 11.9 million
Percent of the Population: 4.2%
Percent Growth Forecast by 2010: 33.3%
Merchandising Mandates
• Consider reaching out with coupons or other special promotions via the Internet. Of all population segments, Asian Americans are the most likely to have a household computer and Internet access. And among Asian American households with Internet access, 70 percent go online daily.
• Use in-language media—in advertising and with point-of-sale materials. The vast majority of U.S. Asians are foreign-born and prefer communications in their native language.  
• Target Asian Americans with premium-priced confectionery items during prime gifting times of the year. Such an approach has paid off in other categories.
Asian American  SNAPSHOT
• Asian Americans are more likely than any other population group to have household incomes of $75,000 or above.
• Estimated annual buying power in 2003: $344 billion
• There are 545 Asian American in-language newspaper, magazine, television and radio media vehicles.
Sources: Kang & Lee Advertising, Selig Center for Economic Growth
Psychographic Profiles
Chinese Americans: Cautious in personal and business dealings, price-conscious, plan for the long term, strong emphasis on family and education.
Filipino Americans: Highest rates of acculturation thanks to English competency, heritage/culture values similar to Hispanics, strong sense of family and community preservation, highly religious (predominantly Roman Catholic).
Asian Indian Americans: National heritage, culture and values are very important, extreme emphasis on education, highly price/value conscious, but very loyal to strong brands.
Vietnamese Americans: Quality conscious and value seekers, strong political beliefs, extremely strong tendency for cultural and community preservation, strong emphasis on family and education.
Korean Americans: Often value emotion more than logic, prefer name brands to lower price, independent and aggressive, strong emphasis on family and education.
Japanese Americans: Value consensus over individual opinion, value name brands over price, strong family values, emphasis on education.