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Reaching The Fastest Growing Consumer In A Digital World By Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF)


Reaching The Fastest Growing Consumer In A Digital World By Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF)

Download a sample copy of this report:  3AF_Media_Consumption_Report_Sample_Pages

A nationwide survey commissioned by the 3AF on Asian American consumers’ media consumption behaviors which covers both traditional and digital media, in English and in native language, with a breakdown on major Asian sub-segments (Chinese, Asian Indian, Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese).

About this research

To help marketers and media understand the U.S. Asian consumer opportunity, the Asian American Advertising Federation has been following the growth of the U.S. Asian population for nearly two decades.  Today, Asians are recognized as the fastest-growing U.S. multicultural segment, driven largely by new immigration.  In fact, the Pew Research Center projects that the U.S. Asian population will grow to be 14% of the total U.S. population by 2065, based on U.S. Census data.

That the majority of growth is coming from new immigration, while the buying power of the U.S.-born population quickly rises, is significant and worth exploring.  First-generation Asians represent new potential and can be well reached by specialized media, while more general media may reach later generations.

To understand how to address these opportunities, the 3AF commissioned the Asian American media consumption study.  We want to help understand how cultural and linguistic factors of Asian Americans drive their media consumption choices.  We feel the market needs a depth of analysis that does not look at Asian Americans as one monolithic group, but delves into the diverse Asian sub-segment groups, and the age groups within.

At the same time, how does our fast-changing media landscape, with the proliferation of media channels and technologies that can deliver ever-more-personalized content, contribute to these consumption decisions?  By breaking down the demographics to understand the influence of language and culture, we hope to fill a critical knowledge gap that will help improve how advertisers reach different Asian American consumer groups, and motivate them to action.



Media Paradigm Redefined

Changing demographics, cultural shifts and technology have changed the media paradigm. What used to be defined by general-market English media and ethnic in-language media is now dominated by a few mobile giants (Facebook, YouTube, Google and Amazon), where both English and in-language content are abundant and easily accessible.  At the same time, there is a host of niche media catering to specific segments.  All in all, Asian American consumers have more content choices than ever before.

Changing demographics and shifts in culture and mindset have given rise to platforms like DramaFever, whose subscriber base is mostly non-Asian.

Freedom of Choice

Given the many choices they have, most Asian Americans consume media in both languages.  English-preferred Asians consume English media primarily, but a small number of them also consume in-language media.  Many in-language–preferred Asians consume both English and in-language content, particularly for video and audio content, and less so for written content such as print and online.

Asian consumers consume In-language content primarily produced in the United States and secondarily from their home countries. The exception is Koreans, who have a strong preference for TV programming and movies from their home country.

Increasing Importance of Social Media in Video Content Delivery

Social media and apps are playing an increasingly important role in content distribution. YouTube is one of the primary sources for TV programming and movies for in-language–preferred Asian consumers.  Two in five in-language survey respondents use YouTube for TV programming and movies.

Traditional pay TV, such as cable and satellite, continues to play a significant role in providing entertainment to Asian Americans, particularly for in-language–preferred Asians.

There is growing interest in online streaming.  Four in five Asian consumers stream content online.  Three in four have a paid subscription.

Diversified Audio Content Distribution

Traditional radio is still a primary source of news and music.  However, there is growing popularity of digital radio, primarily for music.  English-preferred Asians tend to use digital radio primarily for music, while in-language–preferred Asians are more inclined to use it for other types of content such as news and weather.

Print as Unique Connection to Local Community

While the Internet has a dominant presence in Asian consumers’ daily life and is relied upon for all types of information including international news, travel and shopping, print media plays a unique role as the primary source for local news.  The majority of Asian consumers use print on a weekly basis.  Furthermore, while print is often used in paper form, it is increasingly accessed online and on consumers’ mobile devices. Newspaper websites rank #3 in content sources for online information and news.

Social Media – Beyond Social Networking

Social media has gone beyond social networking and become one of the primary sources of news for Asian consumers.  They use social media for news first and messaging second.

Social media giants Facebook and YouTube have across-the-board appeal for different Asian segments and age groups, which is a reflection of these media platforms’ global reach and the variety of content on them, both English and in-language.

WeChat, China’s homegrown social media platform, is very popular among Chinese and Vietnamese consumers, particularly for the in-language–preferred.  62% of Chinese in-language respondents and 55% of Vietnamese in-language respondents reported using WeChat on a daily basis.

Device-Sophisticated and Tech Savvy

Asian Americans are early adopters of technology.  More than four in five respondents interviewed own a computer/laptop and smartphone, and close to one in five own a smartwatch.

Computers/laptops and smartphones are used most often on a daily basis to access all types of media content.

TV ranks third in penetration and usage for content access.  In addition to its main function of playing TV programming, television is also increasingly being used for playing other types of content, such as video and social media.

Detailed Findings Content
Overall Media Consumption

  • TV
  • Internet
  • Social Media
  • Nuanced differences
  • English vs. in-language respondents
  • Younger vs. older respondents

Role of Language
Media Content and Delivery (Video/Audio/Information/Social Media)

  • Top 3 genres
  • Nuanced segment differences
  • Sources
  • Paid vs. unpaid

Device for Media Consumption


The research used two methodologies: an online survey and in-person interviews conducted February–March 2016.  Both approaches followed the following guidelines:

English and in-language options were provided for Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans.  Filipinos and Indians had an English-only survey version, in keeping with typical language preferences among these groups.  The “other Asian” group was surveyed in English since the ethnic composition of this mixed group was not pre-determined.  The respondent’s preference determined the language choice for the survey.

Respondents were drawn from major U.S. areas with high Asian American concentrations.


The total sample of 1,328 consists of the following:

  • Chinese – 230
  • Filipino – 222
  • Asian Indian – 250
  • Korean – 215
  • Vietnamese – 171
  • Other Asian – 240

Data Analysis

Country of birth distribution was 55% overseas/foreign born and 45% U.S. born.

The data was weighted by foreign vs. US born United States Census data 2014 estimates for each of our ethnic groups, to provide a more representative snapshot of media practices among Asian Americans.

The data was cross tabulated by Asian ethnicity, by language of the survey (English vs. in-language among Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese) and by age of respondent using the following three age groups: younger than 36 years of age, 36 to 55 years, and 56 years and older.

In addition, a separate set of data tables was generated consisting of a sub-sample of respondents who were single-race Asians or Asian Americans, representing 84% of the total survey population. Findings from both sets of the data are consistent.


This report was prepared by Iris Yim (Chair, 3AF Research Committee), based on data collected and processed by Delphi Consumer Insights with input from Teresa Schnabel.

Here’s why the report is a good investment:

    • Asian American is the fastest growing consumer segment. It’s estimated to reach 14% of the total population by 2065.
    • Two-thirds of Asian Americans are foreign born. Language and cultural backgrounds matter in their choice of media and, therefore, your campaign execution.
    • The 3AF study is the only recent research report that takes an in-depth look at sub-segment nuances, including language and cultural backgrounds.
    • The study is only a fraction of the cost of conducting similar studies on your own. It’s also far more affordable than other syndicated studies, which average $3,995.  And, the cost of conducting a study on your own can be anywhere from $50K-$100K, depending on research design and execution.

Order your copy now for $1,999 for 3AF members and $2,199 for non-members. (hard copies only during the first year)!

Besides special pricing, purchasers of the inaugural study will be the first to know about and have access to future media consumption studies. To reserve your copy now, please contact Genny Hom-Franzen at ghomfranzen@3af.org.

To view sample pages of the report, please click here.