Capturing the young and less-acculturated Asian Americans

Last week, we talked about the significant increase of new immigrants from Asia in recent years. The largest growth is among Gen Z and millennials Asians who are here to pursue better education. They will continue to fuel the rapid growth of Asian American population. More importantly, it is making the Asian American segment more multifaceted and complex than ever before.

It is a rather new challenge brands have yet to face. There are certainly many similarities between the less acculturated and bicultural young Asian Americans at the first glance. Both segments are bilingual, with more affluent social-economical background, and highly technologically savvy. However, there are significant differences in their attitudes, motivations, and media usage if we inspect closer.

Today, we will highlight a few interesting facts about this new segment that call for a different communication approach.

  • This is not their home, but they don’t feel like they are disadvantaged.
    • How are they different: This new generation is a complete different species from earlier Asian immigrants. Due to the high price tag of international tuitions, most of them came from families with significantly higher household income and education level. Unlike other multicultural segments, they do not feel solidarity with disadvantaged groups simply because they do not consider themselves disadvantaged. As China and India become prominent global superpowers, the new arrivals remain deeply connected to their country beyond just emotional reasons.
    • Why this matters: Brands need to reconsider the narrative when connecting with this subsegment. Their pride and close connection with home country make them active advocates of Asian culture. However, their motivation behind such behavior is largely different from bicultural Asian Americans. The new arrivals will not resonate with issues like under-representation, income inequality, or cultural appropriation. They have a sense of cultural superiority, and believe that their home country will eventually surpass U.S. as the global leader.
  • They are bilingual, but they still consume way more in-language content from Asia.
    • How are they different: Language is not a barrier for this new generation. Almost all schools in Asia have implemented English as one of the 3 most important courses, along with their native language and math. With more entertainment content easily accessible on the internet, this generation has no problem conversing or consuming content in English. That being said, their content consumption is still largely leaning towards in-language Asian content. Because they have little desire to blend in, their appetite for entertainment is nothing similar to that of bicultural Asian Americans.
    • Why this matters:  As brands create more proprietary content to connect with young Asian Americans, it is important to clearly define the acculturation level, beyond just demographics. Whether it is humor, cultural cues, or just simple information, these two segments will have wildly different definitions on what they entail.
  • They continue to live in the “parallel media universe” from Asia
    • How are they different: This phenomenon doesn’t limit to new Chinese immigrants, but the differences are the most pronounced among them. Due to censorship regulations, China has an entire parallel media universe. In one of our previous doses, we compared Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp to its Chinese counterpart, WeChat. Unlike earlier immigrants who adapted to Facebook and Twitter, most new immigrants continue to primarily use Asian apps. They are helpful to stay connected with social circles back in Asia. More importantly, these apps have also became critical connection points with other new immigrants in the U.S.
    • Why this matters: Brands need to consider channel opportunities outside of typical digital channels like Facebook and YouTube. Media partners like WeChat, Baidu, and TikTok have seen massive growth in usage outside of Asia. They have thus started to introduce advertising capabilities to target new immigrants in the U.S. Although these are still young and emerging platforms, brands who test the water early always have the advantage to foster a more collaborative partnership and stronger connections with the community.

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