A little more than a year ago, we published a Dose article titled "In God we trust. All others pay cash." about how many Asian Americans still prefer cash over credit cards. And when you go into many Asian restaurants that's what they require - cash. No credit cards. As a quick aside, while there are active efforts to help support Asian Americans restaurants, they're suffering heavily during this crisis as the early stigma against Asian Americans carried directly to their businesses. Please support them if you can with takeout/Uber Eats (if they're still open). Well, while cash is still king among many Asian Americans, an interesting thing has been happening in Asia over the last few years, and it's become even more apparent during COVID-19. Even before this pandemic the rapid adoption of mobile payment was apparent with 80% of consumers in China last year having used mobile payment. How many people use mobile payment today in the US where the vast majority of Americans carry a smartphone? Just 10%. What is going on?
Just the other day, a few of us were walking to a restaurant to pick up some food to go. As we came to an intersection, one of our coworkers decided to jaywalk across the street putting all our lives in danger. Ok, maybe I was a little dramatic, but I was thinking that the likelihood of getting struck by a car greatly increases when disobeying crossing laws.
In God We Trust. All Others Pay Cash" reads a sign at at the cash register at Thanh Restaurant in Westminster, one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants. Thanh serves broken rice. The juicy pork chop, tasty fish sauce, served over perfectly steamed broken rice makes a fantastic lunch plate on any given day. But while a plate of delicious broken rice may not cost much, you can't pay with a credit card.
Just the other day I was waiting for a table at the popular dumpling restaurant Din Tai Fung in South Coast Plaza and decided to walk around the mall since it would probably be a while. South Coast Plaza is synonymous with luxury retail. As I was looking around, I noticed that every single store had Chinese in-language advertising in the window. It got me thinking as to why that was the case, and how significant must the purchasing power of Asian-Americans must be to drive the kind of influence? It turns out that Asian-American consumer buying power is $986 Billion, up 257% since 2000 vs 97% for the entire United States, which might explain why I saw what I saw!
Universally relatable insight with unique cultural cues is the essence of "Cultural Attunement." This is not only the winning formula to great creative work, but also the secret sauce behind a box office hit. One of the biggest reasons behind the success of "Crazy Rich Asians" is its crafty articulation of Asian culture. Like I mentioned previously, the movie did a phenomenal job in making the story relatable to every culture, yet filling it with rich nuances only those who have been engrained in the Asian culture can understand. As the last Dose of our special coverage of "Crazy Rich Asians," I'll explain some of these nuances only an Asian American can resonate with. I hope many of you have already watched the movie by now, because there is going to be a lot of spoiler alert.
Did you watch "Crazy Rich Asians" last weekend? I've been bombarded by questions about the movie. Some asked if it was Asian enough in my books. Some asked if I approve of the lead actor being only half-Asian. Some asked me to explain the rather-complex mahjong scene. But one question stood out. A friend of mine asked with high skepticism:"Is Singapore really that rich as it is in the movie?"
Last week, we talked about rising home ownership among Asian Americans, and the cultural values behind this phenomenon. This phenomenon has also created chain reactions in many other industries, like connected home, home security, in-home technology, and many more. When 67% of Asian Americans agree they are fascinated by cutting edge technology (over indexing against non-Hispanic Whites by 19%,) it is no surprise Asian Americans are a driving force for early adoption of smart home and connected devices. "Really" you say? Let's look at the data.
If you are relatively familiar with the real estate market, you have probably noticed a few things in the last 5 years. The competition is often fierce with multiple cash buyers. There are significantly more bilingual Asian American real estate agents. You are also seeing more and more Asian faces during open houses. This is no longer news for the real estate industry. According to Zillow and 2015 U.S. Census, Asian Americans have the second highest home ownership of 57.7%, compared to Hispanics at 45.3%, and African Americans at 41.2%. This represents the highest growth rate of 48% since 1900, compared to 23% among Whites, 21% among African Americans, and 5% among Hispanics.
Last week, we talked about how much Asian Americans invest significantly in their children's education so they are set up for success later in life. So, what happens after the straight A's, Ivy League diplomas, and advanced degrees? Although Asian Americans only make 6% of the total U.S. population, they have a much higher representation in many professional fields. According to 2015 EEOC data, Asian Americans represent 12% of the U.S. professional workforce. In the top 5 Silicon Valley tech giants (Facebook, Intel, HP, LinkedIn, and Yahoo), Asian Americans represent 27.2% of their total employees. According to 2016 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Asian Americans also have the lowest unemployment rate compared to the national average and any other ethnic segment.