Asian Americans are Discerning, Trendsetting Online Shoppers

Asian Americans’ preference for everything digital boils down to two things: convenience and customization. What if they’re away from the TV? No problem, as most programs can be streamed on a smartphone. What if they want news designed specifically for them? That’s easy, by tuning into an online Asian-American news show broadcast. The convenience that mobile devices have brought to digital content platforms can also be found in the ever-growing world of e-commerce, where Asian Americans lead, both in total dollars spent and in number of purchases made.

Asian-American consumers spend an average of $1,151 on internet purchases per year, 20% higher than non-Hispanic White consumers, and over-index non-Hispanic White consumers for online purchasing at every dollar level over $500. A further examination shows the Asian-American e-commerce market is formidable and primed for continued growth in the future.


As with any conversation about the impact of technology on business, Millennials are a logical starting point. Asian-American Millennials are more likely to purchase a variety of items online than their non-Hispanic White counterparts, including clothing and accessories (13% more likely), airline tickets (53% more likely) and health and beauty items (34% more likely). This shows that, even in a Millennial generation that has fully integrated digital devices into their daily routines, Asian-American Millennials stand out.

Top items purchased online by Asian Americans by generation

Equally as impressive is the outsized online shopping of all Asian-American adults. They are more likely than their non-Hispanic White counterparts to purchase products online, like movie tickets (75% more likely), health and beauty items (59% more likely) and consumer electronics (34% more likely).


While Asian Americans’ affinity for online purchasing is a powerful trend for brands and advertisers to track today, a historical examination reveals that the growth of Asian-American online consumption is sustained and impactful. Asian Americans’ online spend has grown tremendously just in the past year for many non-food home products. Notably, Asian Americans spent 46.8% more on cosmetics, 40% more on skin care preparations and 17.5% more on hair care online last year than in 2016.

Total Online Shopping: Asian Americans Ages 18+ Who Buy a Given Category

There is an incredible opportunity for beauty and personal care companies to design and market products that appeal to Asian-American consumers. These companies must ensure their products are readily available to purchase online in order to meet demand with supply.


Asian-American consumers are cost-conscious and utilize the internet to compare prices prior to making a purchase. In fact, 72% of Asian Americans like to compare prices across different sites before making an online purchase, and 72% say a free shipping offer attracts them to an online shopping site. Additionally, 73% of Asian-American consumers say they prefer purchasing online at a fixed price, as opposed to bidding auction-style, where the price for a product may surpass the actual value.

Pricing and special offers are an important component of online purchases for Asian Americans

In order for brands to appeal to Asian-American consumers and to ensure they’re well-positioned to earn this powerful consumer group’s dollars, new product launches and campaigns should include a robust e-commerce option. Companies should also be cognizant of how they design their online user experience, emphasizing bargains, deals and paying great attention to customization.

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