Target Chinese-Americans Via Web

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It sounds like a marketer's dream: a highly educated demographic group made up of Net-savvy individuals who earn average annual incomes of nearly $70,000 and who are ready to buy everything from clothes and cars to travel packages and financial products.

But, as such leading organizations as Nestle, Charles Schwab and the U.S. Postal Service have learned, the increased market share and solid marketing ROIs that can be realized from targeting this group are hardly figments of some marketer's imagination.

Who is this group, and how can it be reached? They are Chinese-Americans, and corporate America is increasingly looking to the Web as an engaging and cost-effective way to establish relationships with them.

Affluent and Net-savvy. According to a recent study, 59 percent of the North American Chinese community is online, making it one of the most wired groups in the country. The study, conducted by the Interviewing Service of America, was based on interviews with 1,005 individuals of Chinese descent living in the United States and Canada regarding their demographic profiles and Internet usage patterns.

The study also found that Chinese-American Internet users have an average annual income of $69,000, spend an average of $75 per month on long-distance charges and travel about three times a year, and 89 percent of them have credit cards. Such results indicate why marketers consider Chinese-Americans a high-value target audience.

The potential return on marketing to this demographic group is high, but only if marketers know how to make contact and keep this audience's attention. Given the high rate of Internet usage among the group, it is not surprising that the Internet is the most effective -- and inexpensive -- means of making contact.

What is unusual, however, is that third-party studies have shown that Chinese-Americans prefer to interact with various media in their native language. In fact, research conducted by ISA showed that even though the average Chinese-American Internet user has lived in North America for 10 years and is fluent in English, 93 percent prefer to speak and read in Chinese.

Reaching Chinese-Americans. As a direct marketer, how can you use the Internet to gather relevant market data and promote your product? From single-question polls to extensive online surveys, the Web can be used for fast, cost-effective and targeted research and database compilation on the Chinese-American audience. E-mails, pop-up windows and channel placement are just a few of the tools marketers are using to generate intelligence on this potentially lucrative audience.

When a leading beer company wanted to understand consumption patterns of Chinese-Americans, it created a daily poll on a Web site serving Chinese-American communities that asked seven questions over a week. The poll generated 1,000 responses each day, and the company gathered information on everything from preferred brands to consumption frequency and the regional locations of beer aficionados -- information that could then be used in formulating marketing strategies targeting Chinese-American beer drinkers.

In another example, an overseas publication wanted to assess the global Chinese population's views on love and sex, and a survey on a global network of sites was again the solution. The extensive, 30-question survey went on sites serving users in Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and North America. With survey development, implementation and analysis all falling within a three-week period, the publication's research generated more than 70,000 completed surveys -- with survey incentives totaling less than $10,000.

Other extensive research projects focusing on finance, retail and telecommunications have provided an in-depth look at Chinese-Americans, providing useful data for companies that desire to enter or expand their presence in this market. Of course, questions can be built into any online advertising program, generating immediate feedback from the consumers most interested in a company's product or service.

Online promotions. Whether it is a healthcare company selling products online, a financial services company generating leads or a leading multinational food company launching a new brand, corporate America is using a variety of creative tools to market their products and services to the Chinese market. As with any marketing, companies need to find the right fit for their product and deliver a message relevant to their audience. Nestle did just that when it decided to link its sports drink, Milo, with the official Web site of the Chinese government and the Chinese Olympic team launched to cover the 2000 Olympics.

The Web site included four portals in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and North America. Nestle sponsored North American coverage, with specially designed promotions such as a medal count contest, to promote the Milo drink. By capitalizing on the attractiveness of an event highly relevant to Chinese-Americans, Nestle reached 500,000 unique users in two months, a cost-effective way of building its Milo brand.

Chinese-Americans make up a prime demographic market with higher levels of purchasing power, education and income than the mainstream population. Chinese-Americans are a very wired community, and with two of every three using the Internet, it is surely the medium of choice for Chinese-Americans.

Many top companies in the United States have found that marketing to this group produces results in both expanded market share and ROI. n


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