Asian-American Purchasing Power to Rise to $1 Trillion

Asian-Americans, a small but fast-growing demographic, today hold a purchasing power of $718 billion, surging toward $1 trillion in just five years, a recent Nielsen report has found.

Currently at 18.2 million, the Asian-American population has increased by nearly 50 percent in the past decade, accounting for nearly 6 percent of the total U.S. population in 2011.

"You cannot afford to keep Asian-Americans under the radar any longer," the report's writers said. "This is a segment that is vital to your business growth and success."

The reasons for paying attention are clear. The median household income for Asian-Americans is 28 percent higher than the nation's average household median income. Many are highly educated. Half of Asian-Americans who are 25 and older have bachelor's degrees, compared to 28 percent of all others in the same age group, the report notes.

This demographic is vastly diverse, with more than a dozen languages and nationalities represented,  plus a range of economic and educational attainment. Well-established groups such as Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and Korean-Americans show high levels of education and social mobility in national statistics, while others subgroups such as Cambodians, Laotians, Hmong, and Filipinos often do not.

If Asian-Americans were a nation, it would boast the 18th-largest economy in the world, according to the report.

Aruna Hatti, who was born in India and grew up in Southern California, saw an opportunity to create a children's clothing line that blends traditional Indian fabrics with western styles and functionality. Hatti, who is an attorney, partnered with a New Delhi fashion designer to create the Rayil line of children's clothing, which is to launch in the spring.

"Growing up, we were surrounded by beautiful fabrics," Hatti, 37, said during a phone interview from her office in Fullerton, Calif. The children's line is hoped to capture not only Indian-American consumers, who are well versed on the intricacies of Indian silk and cotton fabrics, but also Westerners who have an appreciation for it.

"It's representative of Indian-American community abroad," she said. "It's not completely western or completely eastern."

The Nielsen study echoes an earlier Pew Research Center study that found Asian-Americans overall are more satisfied than the general public with their lives, finances, and the direction of the country. This group also places more value than others on marriage, parenthood, hard work, and career success, according to the Pew study.

This demographic became a significant political force, both in the voting booths and those elected into office. A record number of Asian-Americans will serve in the next Congress, according to an Associated Press report. Still, the Asian-American community is heavily immigrant; almost three-fourths of its adults were born outside the U.S.