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Asian American, Pacific Islander consumers want better brand representation, Nielsen reports

As companies around the country roll out plans to honor May as Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage month, a report released Wednesday suggests members of those communities are paying more attention than ever to representation.

Nielsen researchers found that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders in the U.S., collectively, have $1.3 trillion in buying power or disposable income. Yet, advertisers are still learning the importance of nuanced cultural representation when it comes to branding and marketing. A majority of consumers of Asian and Pacific Islander descent are not willing to shrug off media and advertising that ridicules or mishandles their culture.

A strong share of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders, 64%, stated they will stop buying from brands that devalue their identity group. Patricia Ratulangi, a vice president at Nielsen, was struck by the level of conviction.

“I think about how I grew up, my grandmother, my mother would have said, ‘Stop creating trouble,’” Ratulangi said. But in the last few years, she has noticed boomers joining young people in a “rallying cry in our community.”

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing demographic in the U.S., according to Nielsen. Census data indicates there are 22 million Asian Americans with roots in 20 countries. Their population is projected to balloon to 35.8 million by 2060. Despite their buying power, Asian Americans also have the largest wealth gap between highest and lowest incomes, 23.3%.

It is Ratulangi’s hope that the report opens the eyes of companies and other entities to the value in not just learning about cultures, but also understanding their struggles with issues like anti-Asian racism. Also, doing so not just in May.

“We’re Asian all year round,” Ratulangi said. “Knowing that there is this increased social justice awareness within the community is definitely an important aspect of understanding how to shape your outreach and your marketing to the community.”

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