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Multicultural Special Report: Q&A with Kang & Lee’s Saul Gitlin

How to communicate with Asian-Americans online

April 2006
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Web Culture

If you’re actively targeting Asian-Americans, you need to be able to attract and service them online. This market indexes higher than the general population in weekly Internet usage. To get a better perspective on how best to communicate with Asian-Americans via the Web, Target Marketing spoke with Saul Gitlin, executive vice president of strategic services and new business at Kang & Lee Advertising, a multicultural marketing consulting and communications agency that specializes in reaching Asian-American markets.

Target Marketing: How actively do Asian-Americans use the Internet?

Saul Gitlin: There have been many studies that have looked at Asian-American use of technology and the Internet. All these sources point to the same conclusion: Asians are early adopters of technology. They’re the most likely to have computers at home. They also are mature users of the Internet as defined by how long they’ve been online, their frequency of going online, how much time they spend online and their propensity to research products, purchase products, and conduct financial transactions online.

For example, the Cultural Access Group 2005 Asian American Market report shows that 70 percent of Asians have Internet access at home. When we look at weekly Internet usage, Asians are the highest, using the Internet 18 hours a week, followed by Hispanics with 16 hours a week, African-Americans at 14 hours a week, and only 12 hours a week for Caucasians.



TM:
How important is it for marketers to adapt their sites to service Asian-American customers?

SG: When we look at our top Asian-American populations in the country, we know they exhibit a [strong] preference to consume and communicate in media in their native languages. However, in many cases, because Asians are highly educated, they also are competent in English. So while Asians are heavily using Asian-language sites, they also are going to English-language sites.

I think it really comes down to one of the basic tenets of why multicultural marketing is valuable. If a marketer decides to customize a Web site for a particular language spoken by an immigrant group … or goes a step further and actually builds in more cultural elements to the site in terms of design and functionality—it becomes the difference between putting a general Web site out there in English and hoping diverse groups will come and use it and … sending what we call a hand-engraved invitation to [ethnic] populations to use the site.
 

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