What To Avoid When Targeting The South Asian American Consumer

March 16, 2021

Advertising is the business of creative persuasion. It’s often touted as a celebration of the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes who have never stopped redefining the business of creative communications. In recent times, the massive trends that are shaping U.S. advertising and culture have immensely accelerated why businesses should target the highly-educated and affluent South Asian Americans. 

Digital Is Driving Advertising In 2021

Ad Age expects worldwide ad revenue to surge 14.1% to 397 billion in 2021. In the U.S., digital advertising spend is reaching $136 billion this year, representing a growth of 18.1% from 2020, however, not all traditional media is expected to bounce back. 

Ad agencies and Chief Marketing Officers should establish a new blueprint for what marketing looks like in the future. They should focus on creating new campaigns that target affluent South Asian Americans in new and interesting ways, rather than rely on formulaic stereotypes.

South Asian American Demographic Is Big, Young & Growing Fast

South Asian Americans have become the desirable market segment–they are the fastest growing and most affluent consumer group in the USA with annual household income topping $120,000–significantly more than traditional shoppers in the nation. 

The Indian-American audience have 14 recognized languages and many distinct subcultures. To connect with this distinct community, you must tailor the messaging instead of using mass market messaging. This affluent cohort has got the power of the youth and the scale of the millennial market–for some marketers that by itself is bread and butter. At 6 million in the U.S. population, you’re talking about an enormous number of affluent consumers.

These cultural changes have to be at the forefront of Chief Marketing Officers and Creative Directors. Many should focus their latest efforts in targeting the new tech savvy and affluent consumer–the South Asian American.

Here are 5 ways for your brand to reach this wealthy market segment:

Trend 1. Storytelling is still fundamental to South Asian Americans’ experience of advertising

Despite the incredible explosion of digital technology that includes apps, phones, tablets, videos, gaming, wearables, and social media–South Asian Americans still love stories. 

Stories are a testament to the extraordinary world because there has been more change in the last 5 years than in the previous 55. 

Today, CMOs and ad agencies have to not only keep up with the latest in technology, but cultural influences that are also changing the communications landscape. Stories are what captivate and inform the affluent South Asian audience. Humans need stories as a viable entertainment and information pool for future growth.

Trend 2. Brands should not ignore the rising incomes of Indian-American segment

South Asian Americans are extremely savvy when it comes to devices, technology, online shopping, and streaming, but they are underserved. Where the consumers go, so should the marketing dollars. 

According to the latest from PEW Research, Indian-Americans hold the highest incomes that exceed the nation’s median. Collectively, the South Asian American segment is the fastest growing in both size and economic clout, expected to spend $1.3 trillion by 2022.

Chief marketing officers and ad agencies should place more emphasis in placing your brand in front of top spenders in the USA for that important feeling–sales success.

Trend 3. Brand merchants should not use cliches to market to the highly-educated segment

Intelligence, wit and humor are not just fashionable with affluent South Asian American consumers–it is their new normal. Marketing to Indian-Americans may seem like a no-brainer in approach, but there are nuances to be aware of. Just like any other target market, you must understand those unique points prior to starting campaigns.

For the first time in history, South Asian Americans are part of the cultural elite in the White House. What started with the Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden’s quest for hiring the top people for serving the public–now includes 55 South Asian Americans. 

South Asian Americans are not only a highly educated community, but they are now essential in governing the entire nation.

Consequently, CMOs, creative directors, copywriters, designers, and art directors have to come up with compelling ideas to entertain and inform. What was once good enough isn’t any more. The bar has certainly been raised. 

What marketers do for the general public should not be done for reaching the affluent South Asian American consumer. This includes:

  • Aim to create culturally sensitive buzz that your audience finds appealing or interesting
  • Learn the purchasing habits of wealthy immigrant consumer
  • Pay attention to the growing trends among the GenZ as well as the  Millennial South Asian influencers. Understand how they vary from the generation that was born overseas
  • Stay focused on the affluent South Asian American segment. If you can solve their why and how, then you will have the key to closer understanding and higher sales
  • Partner with a company such as FrontAd to understand the nuances of South Asian American culture and marketing
  • Change as your audience changes. Is your team diverse enough to represent the audience you are trying to reach?

Trend 4. Brands should shift from presentation to participation

Just as the swinging sixties changed advertising culture to be visually driven, so does creative segmentation today. South Asian Americans are tired of the one size fits all message. They are fed up with being talked to: they want to be talked with. South Asian Americans want to buy from people who look like them and share their aspirations. 

From automobiles to banks and beauty–South Asian Americans love to purchase high-end luxury goods. Brands have to engage this affluent consumer in totally new ways. The success of brands of the future will depend upon your understanding of the rich South Asian American consumer and embrace this new relationship.

Brand marketing managers and Creative Directors have to bear witness the rise of this new demographic and bring about change in their own perceptions and ecosystem. You have to evaluate the message. And not be in a haste to construct a message and put it out and not have anything important to communicate.

Trend 5. Brands should not use print ads or TV, but use technology to blissfully, joyfully connect with the well-to-do consumer

South Asian Americans are using technology to search for information. But they are also changing their emphasis to search for meaning. Indian-Americans are also using technology to connect with others who share their passions, interests, fears, and causes to change the world–that resonates most with them. 

More brands need to identify key areas that are important to this new affluent customer and make it part of their brand’s ethos. As Indian-Americans use more technology to widen their concerns, brands can use this knowledge to be more creative, effective, compassionate, and more capable in connecting with the wealthy South Asian American diaspora to shape future sales.

Visual emotion are key for reaching affluent Indian-Americans

The end of traditional marketing is also the new beginning for your brand in the digital age. Affluent Indian-Americans are interested in visual stories with strong emotions. Many brands use exactly this approach. However, brands have to show more insight into human behavior to increasingly sell to South Asian Americans. 

As you go forward in targeting this unique market segment, FrontAd can deliver more stimulation for your marketing budget as well as strategic ways to connect with this tech savvy audience.