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An undiscovered market [3-4 million Filipino-Americans]
ABS-CBN News/Filipinas Magazine ^ | July 12, 2008 | Greg Macabenta

Posted on 07/12/2008 3:19:45 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet

In October 2000, at a whole-day conference in New York organized by the Association of Asian American Advertising Agencies (A5), the forerunner of the Asian American Advertising Federation (3AF), "the business case for Asian American marketing" was the focus of discussion.

The organizers of the conference wanted to call attention to the importance of Asian Americans as a consumer market and to the fact that this was not reflected in the segment’s share of advertising dollars being spent by corporate America.

Ironically, while speaker after speaker spoke in glowing terms about the buying power of Asian Americans, not one touched on the second largest Asian ethnic group in the US and the largest in California, based on the 1990 US census: Filipino Americans.

Fortunately, I was among the speakers and my topic, entitled, "Filipino Americans, a Rich Market Waiting to be Tapped," made up for the omission.

It happened again last March at the 3AF Asian marketing conference in Las Vegas. No discussion of Filipino consumers was held. This time, it was because the panelist invited to speak about our community admitted that she did not know enough.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with many US marketing firms that should logically be benefiting from this "rich market waiting to be tapped." There is much that they do not know or appreciate about Filipinos in America.

Fil-Ams – impossible to classify

To begin with, Filipinos are caught in some form of marketing limbo. Even the US government sometimes identifies "Filipinos" as an ethnic group apart from Asians, as if we were not from Asia. Being relatively proficient in English, we are also considered "fully assimilated" and, therefore, do not require dedicated advertising and promotions campaigns. It doesn’t help that our leading print media, including Filipinas Magazine, are in English, while most other Asian publications are in their respective languages and script.

Even the number of Filipinos in the US has been uncertain. Because the 2000 US census, for the first time, drew a distinction between the "single race" and "bi-racial/multi-racial" population, demographers often tend to pick the single race figure when citing the official number of Filipinos in the US.

What is not fully appreciated is that Filipinos are predominantly multi-racial because of centuries of contact and intermarriage with people from around Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas. In fact, the Philippines is, quite likely, the only other country with an ethnic mix like the United States, with racial strains markedly Malayan, Spanish, Mexican and Chinese.

It took some insistence and persistence on our part among our colleagues in the 3AF to get across the fact that the total Filipino population, based on the 2000 Census, was the sum of the single race figure, 1,850,314, and the bi-racial/multi-racial number, 514,501 or 2,364,815. This made our community the second largest Asian ethnic group in the US, next to the Chinese.

Since 2000, the Asian population in the US has grown substantially, Filipinos along with it. The "2008 Statistical Portrait of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders," recently released by the University of California in Los Angeles, tells us that Filipinos now account for 2.9 million or 19.5% of the 14.9 million ethnic Asians in America—an increase of over 22%. We’re second only to the Chinese (3.6 million) and are ahead of the Asian Indians (2.7 million), Vietnamese (1.6 million), Koreans (1.5 million) and Japanese (1.2 million).

Fil-Ams are consumers

But even 2.9 million is not a firm number, especially for marketing purposes. After all, consumers are consumers, whether they are citizens, green card holders or of uncertain immigration status. Aside from the significant number of "uncountables," the fact that Filipinos have predominantly Hispanic surnames has resulted in undercounting and misclassification in the Census. Similarly Chinese-Filipinos or Chinoys—whose buying and consumption habits are decidedly Pinoy—are often classified as Chinese.

For this reason, the knowledgeable Filipino-owned businesses in America, like the Seafood City Supermarket chain, prefer to use what they consider the more realistic figure of 3.5 to 4 million target Filipino consumers for marketing planning purposes. A huge and profitable consumer base, any way you look at it.

The success of Seafood City appears to be proving its strategy right. The chain now has 15 stores in California and Nevada, including a 70,000-square-foot facility in Vallejo, a 60,000-square-foot branch in Sacramento and a 50,000-square-foot store in Las Vegas. Many of these stores also house some of the biggest Filipino brands, like Max Fried Chicken, Red Ribbon, Chow King, Jollibee, Ayala Corporation, PNB Express Padala, Mango Tours, Atlas Cargo and Valerio’s Bakery. These companies are selling mainly to Pinoys and are making a mint.

UCLA’s demographics

While the UCLA report gave mostly total Asian numbers, with respect to factors like median family income, employment, poverty level, education and age distribution, the report, "We the People: Asians in the United States," based on the 2000 Census, yields some valuable details broken down by ethnicity. According to this report:

• Filipinos hold more management and white collar jobs than the US and Asian average: 83.8% versus 75.2% and 82.7%, respectively. And more high school graduates and holders of college or bachelor’s degrees or higher than the US and Asian average: 87.3% versus 80.4%.

• Our median annual family income is well above the US and Asian average: $65,189 versus $50,046 and $59,324, respectively. We are behind the Japanese (($70,849) and Asian Indians (($70,708) but are ahead of the Chinese ($60,058), Koreans ($47,624) and Vietnamese ($47,103).

• Filipinos have the lowest poverty rate: 6.3% vs. the US and Asian averages of 12.4% and 12.6%, respectively.

• We have the highest percentage of households with three or more income earners at 29.6% ("We the American Asians," 1990 Census).

• Filipino females have the highest participation in the labor force at 65.2% versus the Chinese (56.8%), Vietnamese (56.4%), Asian Indians (54.0%) and Koreans (52.8%). On the other hand, Filipino males are second only to Asian Indians in terms of labor force participation (71.0% versus 79.1%), and well ahead of the Chinese (69.3%), Koreans (69.0%), Japanese (68.8%) and Vietnamese (67.7%).

• Home ownership is high among Filipinos at 60.0%, just slightly behind the Japanese (60.8%) and ahead of the Chinese (58.3%), Vietnamese (53.2%), Asian Indians (46.9%) and Koreans (40.1%).

• The extended family system, characterized by adult and married children living with their parents or siblings, results in a higher annual household income and makes it easier for Filipinos to buy homes instead of renting—a significant advantage in these days of home foreclosures.

• More income earners and more homeowners mean more furniture, more appliances and electronic devices, more cars, more clothes, more expenses on entertainment, communication and leisure and more consumption of food and drinks.

Prime target market

There are other key psychographic characteristics that make us a prime market target. We are acquisitive, fashion and lifestyle conscious, committed to higher education and oriented to home ownership and we hold frequent family get-togethers and will throw a party at the drop of a hat, whether it’s for a baptism, a birthday, a wedding or a wake.

Aside from the obviously high consumption of food and beverages, this family-oriented lifestyle is manifested in the proliferation of mini-vans among Pinoy households, the better for large families to travel frequently from relative to relative and to load balikbayan boxes to ship to the homeland.

In times of economic stress and fierce competition, the incremental volume that the Filipino consumer market can yield can translate into substantial profits. The heal-thy growth of businesses selling mainly to Pinoys is proof of that.

In fact, some of the large Filipino companies are not all interested in having "their" market discovered by the American mainstream. Said one manager of a fastfood chain: "We’d rather have the Pinoys all to ourselves."

Unfortunately, this has resulted in smugness, a tendency to think that Filipino consumers are automatically and permanently "in their pockets," even without any promotional efforts.

Nothing could be more untrue. When a Pinoy is overlooked or ignored by the mainstream, he takes it in stride. But he actively resents being taken for granted by a Filipino-owned business. Some of the largest Philippine brands, including San Miguel Beer and Sarsi, have failed in the US because of this.

Meanwhile, it looks like our undiscovered goldmine will not remain untapped for long. Major marketers like Wal-mart and Macy’s have begun to reach out to Fil-Am consumers and, more recently, McDonald’s has stepped into the scene.

Perhaps some Philippine brands had better wake up.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: asia; asianamericans; filipinoamericans; immigration; marketing; philippines
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1 posted on 07/12/2008 3:19:45 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

This is really cool......just what the Democrats needed...another identifiable victim group to pander to.

2 posted on 07/12/2008 3:50:48 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: 2ndDivisionVet
I had the opportunity to work with a number of Filipinos while in the Navy and to a person I found them to be a God fearing, patriotic, educated, and hard working people. Just the type of people we could use more of in the United States.
3 posted on 07/12/2008 4:27:09 AM PDT by RU88 (The false messiah can not change water into wine any more than he can get unity from diversity.)
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To: RU88

... and God did some of His finest artistry when His brush created the filipina.

4 posted on 07/12/2008 5:07:32 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true ... I have no proof ... but they're true.)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I have the highest respect and admiration for the Filipino community. They are a hard working, educated, ethical and patriotic people that we need more of in the U.S.

5 posted on 07/12/2008 6:22:25 AM PDT by RedCobra (s)
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To: knarf

Oh yes, you got that right!

6 posted on 07/12/2008 6:23:45 AM PDT by RedCobra (s)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

7 posted on 07/12/2008 6:32:24 AM PDT by Mojave
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Michelle Malkin is Filipina, and many of the Filipinos I know are good people, however they have been told that Republicans hate the poor etc. and so some of them are Democrat; this usually passes by the second generation once they realize that Democrats are so heavily pro-abortion.

8 posted on 07/12/2008 6:49:08 AM PDT by ikka
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

I have the pleasure to know a lot of Filipinos, partly because my father sponsored many of them to come to this country after World War II. Most of them are professionals of some kind, extremely focused and hard-working, have raised sound families, and are deeply faithful. I look at them and try to be like them. I also work with some of them (physicians, mostly) and use them as a source of motivation because they are excellent mothers as well as hard-working professionals and kind Christians. I don’t know what’s in the water over there but it must be something good.

9 posted on 07/12/2008 7:03:01 AM PDT by ottbmare
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To: Gaffer

Filipino-Americans are not a victim group. They are hard-working, loyal, patriotic Americans.

Given the fact that the Philippines are a former U.S. territory, I don’t know why we don’t allow more Filipino immigration. The Philippines has also been very helpful in the war on terror, as they have been fighting the Moriscos in the south for ages.

Also, most Filipinos and Filipino-Americans speak English, at least as a second language. English is one of the official languages of the Philippines, and is used widely in commerce and media there. That may explain why they are not pandered to as much.

10 posted on 07/12/2008 7:13:42 AM PDT by B Knotts (Calvin Coolidge Republican)
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To: Mojave

LOL...have you ever eaten at Jolibee?

11 posted on 07/12/2008 7:15:59 AM PDT by B Knotts (Calvin Coolidge Republican)
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To: Gaffer
I'm an American of Filipino heritage (none of that hyphenated crap) and the Democrats can go and pander to this...

12 posted on 07/12/2008 7:50:12 AM PDT by rabscuttle385 (Off balance sheet liabilities...they're not just for Enron anymore!)
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To: B Knotts

I married a Fil-am. She makes the most wonderful Adobo, which every Freep must try. My Fil-am inlaws are all conservative and are of the highest moral caliber. As far as I know, the peeps in their Fil-am community here in Denver identify themselves as AMERICAN , so I’m not sure how they can be targeted any differently. Michelle Malkin is a smoking hot babe. (Sorry, that just came blurting out.)

13 posted on 07/12/2008 7:56:52 AM PDT by LittleBillyInfidel (''Undocumented nukes want to do the job that American nukes won't do.'')
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To: B Knotts

I’ll take Boy Boy the grandson there. But gramps will have Dinuguan and Halo-halo at the grill next door.

14 posted on 07/12/2008 9:53:20 AM PDT by Mojave
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To: Mojave

We don’t have any around here. But on my most recent trip to the Bay Area, I had to try it. It was...different. French dressing on a hamburger is an interesting idea.

I’m not Filipino, although I did have a great uncle who was a Filipino. He came over after the war, I think. He was very successful as a cook/chef, and opened his own restaurant in the San Diego area. He was a very kind and generous man.

15 posted on 07/12/2008 10:52:36 AM PDT by B Knotts (Calvin Coolidge Republican)
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To: B Knotts

My point wasn’t that they are a victim group. The point is that any group the Democrats can single out as a collective ‘something’ (except white non-union men, that is)they can be pandered to, usually by making them believe they are victims in one way or another. Albeit this was done for commercialization purposes, it doesn’t mean the democrats won’t use it to their advantage. Don’t get so touchy.

16 posted on 07/12/2008 11:09:32 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer

I think if you reread my response, you’ll see that I was not being touchy, but merely providing information.

Another factoid is that many Filipinos (living in the Philippines) fought in the U.S. Armed Forces in WWII.

Today the largest percentage of foreign-born military personnel are from the Philippines (22.8%). That’s over twice the percentage as those from Mexico.

17 posted on 07/12/2008 11:21:56 AM PDT by B Knotts (Calvin Coolidge Republican)
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To: 2ndDivisionVet

Make my first mill selling them duck egg thingies!

Br warned: If you don’t know, don’t ask!

18 posted on 07/12/2008 11:25:50 AM PDT by djf (Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. Those who can't teach get elected.)
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To: djf

19 posted on 07/12/2008 12:03:01 PM PDT by Mojave
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To: Mojave

UMMMMM... Balut.

20 posted on 07/12/2008 12:13:23 PM PDT by Safetgiver (Lord, I'll give to the poor when they stop wanting to be poor.)
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