Asian-Americans outspend other US households, Nielsen study shows

Nielsen study shows people in this demographic are the nation's number one online shoppers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 1:41pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 December, 2013, 4:18pm

The spending habits of the mainland consumer have been well dissected, as have the buying preferences of their travellers. But what about their peers who go abroad and stay there?

Nielsen yesterday released the results of a study done on the consumption habits of Asian-Americans who come from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Korean and Japanese.

It found that Asian-American households outspend US households in general by an average of 19 per cent. They are also the number one demographic among online shoppers.

Seventy-seven per cent of Asian-Americans had made an online purchase within the past year, as against 61 per cent of all Americans.

Twelve per cent of Asian Americans spent US$2,500 or more a year on internet shopping, almost double the amount for the general population in the United States.

It also turns out the long bandied-about stereotype of the Asian-American housewife who drives her Mercedes-Benz to the discount store does have some truth to it.

Asian-Americans were more likely to go for a deal. Thirty-three per cent of their total spending was on special promotions, compared with 27 per cent for other ethnic groups.

That's not to say Asian-Americans will sacrifice quality for price. They do their research beforehand - 78 per cent said they liked to shop around before making a purchase, and two-thirds said they were willing to pay a premium for quality.

"When making big-ticket purchases, Asian-Americans are often willing to pay more, spending money where they think it counts the most," the study said.

The study found Asian-Americans are nearly twice as likely to spend US$300 or more on a watch and 36 per cent more likely to spend US$400 and upwards on a piece of fine jewellery.

Brand name was very important in this respect, because the majority of Asian-Americans are immigrants from countries where US or international brands denote status or quality.

They tended to use the brand name as the top indicator of quality of products.

Asian-American consumers were 29 per cent more likely to say they'd spend more for name brands when buying food, and 23 per cent when it came to drugs, even if a comparable generic was available.

Asian-Americans' willingness to spend can be linked to their higher disposable incomes. They have a higher median net worth (US$89,300) than the average US household (US$68,800).

The income of Asian-American households soared 97 per cent from 2000 to this year.

Not only are their incomes growing but the size of their population is shooting up, too. The influence of Asian-Americans is expanding far beyond the Chinatowns or Little Indias of the West Coast and New York City.

Over the past decade, their numbers have jumped by at least 33 per cent in all states in the country except for Hawaii, which already has a majority Asian-American presence.