Asian American youth: a trend for retailers to follow

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on July 31, 2006

Asian American youngsters are increasingly producing the key trends in pop culture that are being embraced by mainstream American youth culture, according to a study from New American Dimensions and InterTrend Communications. Word-of-mouth marketing may be a key to this segment, the report suggests.

According to the study, entitled Made in America: Asian American Teens and Echo Boomers, Asian American youngsters are likely to view themselves as trendsetters in three distinct cultural categories: technology and gadgetry, Anime and Manga (cartoon art), and video gaming.

Broad media engagement
The study also found that today's Asian American youth are involved with a variety of cultures and are also engaged in a broad range of media, entertainment, and cultural activities. This section of the population is therefore becoming an attractive target for youth marketers, having a growing amount of influence in the youth market overall.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents were born in the US (and therefore 38% outside the US). However, some differences emerged between both groups in their involvement in trends within popular culture.

Key findings
Among the main findings of the study:

  • Word of mouth marketing
    Asian American youth are more likely to identify and seek out trends through word-of-mouth messaging than through any other media channel or network. This is particularly true for second-generation Asian Americans who said they are twice as likely as their first generation counterparts to learn about trends via word of mouth. Among the first-generation group, television holds the greatest influence in helping them learn about new trends.
  • Areas of influence
    Nearly 80% identified "technology and gadgets" and "anime and manga" as the top two areas where Asian Americans are influencing trends, followed by a smaller number citing "video gaming" as the third major area of influence. Other areas where the group cited a high degree of influence include "food and culinary arts" and "visual arts".
  • Music culture preferences
    Hip Hop and Alternative music are the dominant musical genres favoured among US-born Asian American youth. A diverse array of musical genres forms the listening habits of Asian youth, but with distinct differences according to their acculturation levels and generation. While first-generation (born outside the US) respondents preferred "Pop/Top 40" music, second-generation Asian Americans (US born) exhibited a stronger preference for Hip Hop and Alternative music. Among the latter, 62% cited "Hip Hop/Rap" as their favourite music, followed by 51% who favour "Alternative/Indie".

According to Thomas Tseng, principal for New American Dimensions, "It's not completely surprising that Asian Americans wield a tremendous influence in areas like video gaming and manga. Anime and Manga represent a US$4 billion business in the US, and are embraced today by millions of American kids. As ambassadors and curators of this sub-culture, Asian American youngsters shape the contours of this space and spread it to their peers."

Contrast with Hispanic youth
The survey's results are in contrast to previous research the companies have conducted among Hispanic youth in the US. While many second-generation Hispanic youngsters show their pride through their language and culture, Asian American youth seem to want to assert their pride in how they help to shape mainstream American culture."

For additional information:
·  Visit NAD at
·  Visit InterTrend at