Marketing to South Asians Online in 2022: A Helpful Guide

July 01, 2022

Today’s internet-savvy consumers want brands to engage with them in a personalized fashion. Marketers can find it challenging when they don’t understand their audiences. Using the same marketing strategy for all ethnicity and subgroups would be a grave mistake. This is particularly true for the immensely diverse South Asian population in the United States (U.S.). 

By 2065, it is expected that Asian Americans will make up the largest immigrant group in the U.S., mostly due to the South Asian population, which increased by an astounding 40 percent in just seven years, from 3.5 million in 2010 to 5.4 million in 2017.

It is anticipated that the highly educated and affluent South Asian immigrant community in the U.S. will have a total purchasing power of $1.3 trillion by 2022. In this article, we discussed proven ways to tap into this promising market. 

The following tips will help you develop a marketing plan with a South Asian audience in mind.

Identify Your Audience 

Is Your Brand Neglecting The Fastest Growing Demographic In America?

A record 22 million Asian Americans trace their ancestry to over 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. 

Despite coming from a variety of countries with their unique histories, cultures, languages, religions, buying habits, and other characteristics, Asians are often lumped together. 

From a marketing standpoint, categorizing the entire community this way can backfire.  Multicultural marketing campaigns in the U.S. targeting this community frequently fail because of this.

Furthermore, there are large differences among the Asian subgroups. The South Asian community in the U.S. is far from homogenous. 

South Asians are people who trace their roots to Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. The group also consists of descendants of South Asians who first immigrated to other parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, other regions of Asia, and the Pacific Islands. 

Over 80 percent of the South Asian population is made up of Indians, who are then followed by Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Nepalis, Sri Lankans, and Bhutanese.

The South Asian community also has a wide range of ethnic, religious, and linguistic traits. For example, South Asians practice Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism. The most common languages other than English spoken by South Asians in the U.S. include Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu. 

Lumping the entire community under one set of traits is one of the main reasons why many marketing strategies fall short. Instead, marketers should try to gain a more comprehensive understanding of South Asian consumers, from recognizing their bicultural and multicultural identities to their shopping habits, wants, and requirements.

Understand Immigration and Socioeconomic Status

Over 75% of South Asians who reside in the U.S. were born outside of the country. New immigrants belong to the first generation, while the first borns in the country are the second generation, and so on.

There are several different immigration statuses that South Asians might hold, including naturalized citizens, students, workers, dependent visa holders, and undocumented immigrants.

Many South Asians work in the technical and medical industries, while many people in the community also do low-paying positions, including cashiers, cab drivers, and restaurant workers. 

Overall, Asian Americans fare better than the general U.S. population on measures of economic well-being. Asian-headed households had a median yearly household income of $85,800 in 2019, compared to a nationwide average of $61,800. Foreign-born Asian households made somewhat more money ($88,000 vs. $85,000) than U.S.-born Asian households. 

However, there are significant differences between the Asian subgroups. According to reports, Asian Americans experience the highest levels of income inequality. Asian Americans in the top 10% of the income distribution earned 10.7 times as much as Asian Americans in the lowest 10%.

According to 2018 Pew research, of the approximately 5 million South Asian Americans living in the United States, nearly 472,000, or 10% of them, live in poverty. Pakistanis (15.8%), Nepalis (23.9%), Bangladeshis (24.2%), and Bhutanese (33.3%) had the highest rates of poverty among South Asian Americans, and Bangladeshi and Nepalese communities had the lowest median household incomes of all Asian American groups, at $49,800 and $43,500, respectively.

The households led by Indian Americans ($119,000) and Filipino Americans ($90,400) were the only two Asian origin groups with household earnings higher than the average for Asian Americans.

That said, Asian American millennials are one of the most wealthy segments, with 34% making $50,000 or more each year. This group tends to prefer Apple over Android phones. Such information can help when reaching out to them. With first-generation Asian Americans, your messaging may be more successful if it is done in their native language. 

In recent years, many South Asian women have prioritized their careers much more than they did their marriages and families. Such socioeconomic trends must be recognized by marketers. They should closely examine the market they seek to target. 

Know Your Audience 

Many Asian cultures share some traits and values, such as a focus on family, tradition, and education. 

Asian Americans place a high value on education. The higher the level of education acquired, the greater the honor brought to the family. Comparatively, 54 percent of Asians aged 25 and older hold a bachelor’s degree or above, as opposed to 33 percent of Americans in the same age bracket. 

However, there are wide variations among the Asian subgroups. Indians aged 24 and older have the highest level of educational achievement among the U.S. Asians, with 75% possessing a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2019. Bhutanese adults are the least likely Asian origin group to have a college degree (15%). 

Asian-Indian Americans are renowned for being hard workers who are devoted to their goals. They take their obligations very seriously and have a low percentage of business loan defaults. 

Two characteristics shared by all Asian American populations are brand loyalty and an appreciation for quality. Focus on features that communicate the value your brand gives.

South Asian Americans place a high value on the family and generally have a lot of respect for the family’s elders, just like the majority of other Asian American cultures. Additionally, the younger family members typically take care of the senior members of the family. They have large families and many extended families who either coexist or reside nearby. 

These values may be used by marketers to their advantage in a particular marketing initiative. For instance, a marketer might think about employing a family theme, where appropriate, to advertise a certain good or service, like a car or fire insurance.

Furthermore, they see the importance of traditional values in maintaining their distinct cultures. An advertisement can capitalize on this need to promote a certain good or service.

You can only interact meaningfully with a group of people when you sincerely respect them and their culture.

Food Is A Big Part Of The South Asian Community

The majority of South Asian households like preparing and consuming traditional foods at home. Engaging the community through food is a terrific marketing strategy.

While huge festivals like Diwali and Ramadan are important events, marketers should keep in mind that South Asians make purchases throughout the year.

In addition, marketers should be aware of their food restrictions if they want to reach this segment of Asian Americans. For instance, meat is not consumed by Hindus because they view the cow as a holy animal. Muslims, on the other hand, consume beef but abstain from pork. Also, Muslims don’t consume alcohol.

It’s also important to note that many Indian Americans are vegetarian. Depending on how well they have assimilated into western culture, Asian Americans will consume different foods and beverages.

Discover more about the various foods and customs that belong to this community through Foodstagrammers/ Food Vloggers. Because of the significant distinctions in food, religion, heritage, and family, the South Asian diaspora offers a unique opportunity for marketers to target a variety of wants and requirements. There are a few food brands that got South Asian representations right.

Make Your Beauty Brand More Diverse

Nowadays, we can see more South Asian representation in the fields of beauty, wellness, and fitness. Many first and second-generation South Asians have embraced a healthier lifestyle by joining gyms and utilizing fitness apps.

In beauty advertising, many brands are producing a more diverse range of products and are using models of all ethnicities. However, darker complexion tones are still underrepresented. 

Due to the hyperpigmentation in their complexion, South Asian ladies are frequently searching for cosmetic companies to help them balance out their skin tones.

Brands need to be aware that various ethnicities have various tones and textures. A whole community cannot be served by a single product or model. Tap into the rise of informed & ethnically diverse skincare consumers.

Personalization Is Important

It requires effort to truly understand a target market and what drives them to make purchases. Narrow your emphasis to two or three subgroups. 

Once you’ve decided which subgroups to target and have done your research on them, you can create campaigns to appeal to each one by tailoring your content, creativity, and images based on what you’ve discovered about what each group finds appealing.

With each campaign, keep track of your outcomes and make changes in response to what you discover. One of the crucial steps for advertisers in digital marketing campaigns is understanding your audience’s mindsets and purchasing tendencies. You get greater results as your marketing in this area matures and grows.

The advantages are significant for marketers who develop campaigns to target niche markets within the Asian American market. It will be crucial to understand the distinction between mass marketing and niche marketing due to the high expense of recruiting new customers.

Go For Digital Channels 

While there are numerous ways for marketers to interact with consumers, when it comes to engaging with Asian Americans, marketers should concentrate on digital channels. 

Asian Americans are a particularly connected demographic; 99 percent of their homes have internet access, which is 6 percentage points more than the national average of 93 percent.

In the U.S., 94 percent of Asian Americans have a smartphone, increasing their access to the internet and social media for entertainment, information, and social connection.

Marketers should segment and then further sub-segment the target audiences if they wish to reach different demographics effectively. They should therefore be familiar with the subgroups that comprise the Asian-American market, such as the South Asian Americans.

FrontAd is a full-service digital marketing solutions provider, operating from Silicon Valley, helping brands find the right marketing platforms to reach the South Asian market in the U.S. FrontAd has a curated list of South Asian audiences and multiple brands covering beauty to immigration. 

With 20 years of experience in the field, FrontAd has first-hand knowledge of what works (and doesn’t) in the digital domain. 

We can take care of everything from brand recognition to a single ad in an extensive, customized campaign and deliver to a highly engaged audience through our well-known marketing platforms that a third of the South Asian community in the U.S. already uses daily.