Asian Americans Targeted by Advertisers

With a half a trillion in income and high median household income, Asian Americans are now being targeted by advertisers. This made me wonder. Is this a good thing for Asian Americans? Can it be bad? How can you target “Asian Americans” when Asian Americans are a highly fragmented group, not only by language and country of origin but by income?

Overall, I think it is a good thing for Asian Americans. The BBC video shows the Honda advertisement with the couple who are surprised by the salesman who also speaks Chinese. I like this ad because the couple is portrayed as being regular Americans (no fake fobby accent) who are also retain some Asian culture.  The Indian American women in the insurance ad are the same way. This seems to be a positive trend with Asian American commercials, particular the ones from Target, and it’s a much better image than the ones seen too often in political attack ads.  The only downside I see is when certain harmful products are targeted at Asian Americans. I’d hate to see print ads for cigarettes aimed at Asian Americans, and I really hate seeing the billboards in Asian languages in my area for Indian Casinos.

The BBC video talks about how to deal with the fragmentation within the Asian American umbrella. There are two ads for the same insurance product (a shot from each is shown above), but each one targets a specific Asian American ethnicity. The video also portrays Asian Americans as being mostly wealthy, but there are many Asian Americans who are not well off.  These can be targeted also. In Fresno, a radio station gained a large Hmong following (and by extension, their advertisers) by giving away things like pigs and chickens in contests. I’d listen to a radio station giving away pigs, particularly if the pig are converted into Lechon!

One fact that the BBC video missed is that much minority entertainment and content has moved online.  While mainstream American TV tends to have mostly white characters, the Asian Americans like Michelle Phan, Ryan Higa, and Kevin Wu draw big online audiences, enough for some major advertisers to be interested.  Michelle Phan even became an official representative of cosmetics company Lancome.   Advertisers who want to increase their exposure to an Asian American audience will advertise more and more on Asian American video channels and web sites.

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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