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Asian Americans are the most prolific spenders in U.S., survey shows

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Asian Americans have emerged as the most prolific and impulsive buyers in the nation, according to a Nielsen survey released Thursday.

They prefer Costco over Wal-Mart, brand names over generics and lead the nation as a demographic in online buying. As a group, their spending power outpaces the coveted millennials -- those in their 20s and early 30s, according to Nielsen's "Significant, Sophisticated and Savvy: the Asian American Consumer 2013."

Asian American households, on average, boast incomes of $100,000 or more -- earning more than general U.S. households and representing the highest among cultural groups, according to the findings.

FULL SURVEY: The Asian American consumer

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing cultural segment in the nation, with a population of nearly 19 million, and with an increase expanding beyond the traditional hubs of the West Coast and New York City. Asian Americans continue to swarm to urban areas, with all states except Hawaii experiencing 33% or more growth in the last year.

The survey also concluded that:

Asian American households spent 19% more than overall households in 2012, with much of the spending focused on food, transportation, housing, clothing and insurance.

Asian Americans tend to live with multiple generations under one roof, making shopping decisions based on culture, value, efficiency and convenience. This population, compared with the general population, recorded more trips to warehouse clubs, mass merchandisers and drug stores.

Asian Americans lead in online buying, with 77% making an Internet purchase in the last year, compared with 61% of the general population. Moreover, they are digital pioneers, adopting technology faster than any other segment and showing higher rates of smartphone use, online video consumption and Internet connectivity.

By 2017, Asian Americans are expected to surpass $1 trillion in consumer buying power, "showing their influence and reach and the need for marketers to continue to offer culturally relevant materials," said Betty Lo, vice president of public affairs for Nielsen, which conducted the survey.

Its first report on the consumer habits of the population emerged last year, and since, "people have been telling us they're hungry for a serious, thorough compilation," leading to the current survey.

In-language and culturally sensitive programming and services are more crucial, she said, with nearly 70% of Asian Americans speaking a language other than English. Chinese ranks as the second-most popular foreign language in the U.S., after Spanish.

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anh.do@latimes.com

Twitter: @newsterrier

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