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Asian-American Consumers are Predictive Adopters of New Media Platforms, Online Shopping and Smartphone Use

6 minute read | May 2018

Asian-Americans Outpace Ethnic Groups in Population Growth and Increased Spending Power

New York, NY – May 8, 2018 – According to Asian Americans: Digital Lives and Growing Influence, a Nielsen report released today, Asian-American consumers are growing faster than the general population and maintaining income and education rates higher than any other racial or ethnic group. Asian Americans continue to make gains as tech-enabled influencers with unlimited potential. As the fastest growing ethnic group, Asian Americans’ consumer buying power has grown exponentially to $986 billion, up 257% since 2000, versus 97% for the total U.S.

“Year over year, as we develop this report, we have seen consistent growth and expansion in the Asian-American consumer segment,” said Mariko Carpenter, Vice President, Strategic Community Alliances, Nielsen. “Asian Americans’ growth, influence and spending power are key characteristics of a powerful consumer group that can make an impact on any industry or business. Now, with a growing Millennial population, we are seeing Asian Americans rising as trendsetters and leaders in business, sports, fashion, food and entertainment. Marketers, take note.”

This year’s report highlights Asian-American consumers as predictive adopters of new media and technology—including the platforms consumers use to watch their favorite shows, what they buy online, and which apps they choose to enhance their everyday lives. According to the annual Nielsen report, Asian Americans are showing incredible growth in mainstream influence as social influencers, food bloggers and talented U.S. athletes. Data in this report show the star power of these Asian Americans and their ability to build audiences that are more representative of the American public.

Smartphones and other mobile devices are core to the Asian-American lifestyle and identity. Thirty-three percent of Asian Americans say their cell phone is an extension of their personality, and 73% note that text messaging is an important part of their daily life. Asian Americans present the added advantage to marketers of maintaining ties with home cultures where global leaders in smartphone manufacturing, social media and online commerce have headquarters. They outpace non-Hispanic Whites in ownership of the latest digital devices and are also more likely to use their digital devices to purchase products online, listen to music and radio, watch TV or movies, as well as other daily lifestyle functions.

“Nielsen’s commitment to providing a nuanced and distributed view of diverse consumers for their clients and the community is illustrated in this rich and robust body of work,” said Edwin Wong, co-chair of Nielsen’s Asian Pacific American External Advisory Council, and Senior Vice President, Research and Insights, BuzzFeed. “This report, which underscores the impact of Asian-American consumers in terms of consumer power and broader influence, will help Nielsen’s clients and the industry understand preferences to better meet our needs.”

Highlights of Asian Americans: Digital Lives and Growing Influence

Digital Dominance

  • Asian Americans are leaders when it comes technology consumption, purchasing and usage. They over index non-Hispanic Whites at 66% for owning smartwatches, 39% for streaming media players, 18% for game consoles and 17% for smart TVs.
  • Both Millennial and older generation Asian Americans are spending less time on live and DVR TV and using computers.
  • Asian Americans are spending more time using multimedia devices, watching video on smartphones and using apps and the web on smartphones.
  • Ninety-four percent of Asian-American households own a cell phone (compared with 86% of the total population). Seventy-three percent agree that text messaging is an important part of their daily life.
  • Asian Americans over index non-Hispanic Whites by 31% for agreeing the internet is a main source of entertainment for them.
  • Asian Americans 18+ over index the total population on leading smartphone apps, such as Yelp, Venmo, Lyft, Uber, Skype and WhatsApp.

Big Spenders Online

  • Asian Americans are active online shoppers—spending an average amount of $1,151 on internet purchases in the last 12 months, 20% higher than online spending by non-Hispanic Whites.
  • Millennial Asian Americans made most online purchases in the categories of clothing or accessories, outpacing non-Hispanic White purchasing in this category by 13%. They also over index the highest in buying computer products (63%), airline tickets (53%) and consumer electronics (52%) online.
  • Asian Americans also over index in online spending in many categories including hair care, oral hygiene, skin care, housewares, computers and equipment.
  • Online spending by Asian Americans grew significantly in skin care (40%), kitchen gadgets (37%), cosmetics (47%) and hair care (18%) in 2017, compared to the previous year.

Influence and Impact

  • Asian Americans are having a sizable impact on society and culture, increasing influence on what America eats, watches, reads and listens to.
  • Asian Americans over index by 124% for using Yelp, 92% for reading and contributing to blogs and by 51% for reading restaurant reviews.
  • Food popularity has expanded to mainstream audiences and the growth in Asian-American restaurants has created new dining out trends and options.
  • Leading Asian-American celebrities who got their start on YouTube have high levels of awareness, likability, and influence, according to Nielsen N-Score. .
  • In sports, nearly 6% of the U.S. athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics were Asian American.
  • In politics, at the beginning of 2017, there were 18 Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in Congress, a record high.

Thriving and Diverse

  • With a population of 21.8 million, Asian Americans currently represent 7% of the total U.S. population. Much of the growth has come from immigration.
  • Asian Americans are the most affluent and educated of any U.S. racial and ethnic group, and have the highest average household income at $110,523. Fifty-two percent of Asian-Americans have at least a bachelor’s degree.
  • In 2017, California had the largest Asian-American consumer spending with $323 billion. The next highest spend state was New York at $88 billion, followed by Texas at $78 billion.
  • Asian-American households are more likely to include a married couple (63%), have children under 18 in the house (39%) and be multi-generational (26.7%).
  • Asian-American households are also more likely to have internet access than the total population.
  • Asian-American households spend more annually ($61,400) than the average U.S. household ($53,510).

For more details and insights, download the new report.  

About Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series

In 2011, Nielsen launched the Diverse Intelligence Series, a robust portfolio of comprehensive reports which focus solely on diverse consumers’ unique consumption and purchasing habits. The series has become an industry resource to help brands better understand and reach ethnic customers. Learn more about Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence research series.

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge. For more than 90 years Nielsen has provided data and analytics based on scientific rigor and innovation, continually developing new ways to answer the most important questions facing the media, advertising, retail and fast-moving consumer goods industries. An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit


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