Market Profile: Asian-Indian Americans

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As of 2010, the Asian-Indian population in America grew to 2.8 million, which makes it one of the fastest growing segments.  Due to fewer restrictions on placed on Asians since 1965, immigration over the past few decades has flourished dramatically. This trend shows no sign of slowing down. 

Generally, Asian-Indians are most heavily concentrated in urban areas, making effectively targeting them through various regional media quite attainable.  The four cities with the highest density are New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago. 

Nearly nine-in-ten Asian-Indian Americans are foreign-born as compared with the average (74%) of all Asian Americans.  The majority of them, 76%, speak English at a proficient level which is quite impressive when compared with the average, 90%, of all Americans.

With a strong focus on education, Asian-Indians are also some of the most educated groups in America, ranking 18% higher than Chinese and 43.1% higher than the national average.

Indian Education Graphic.PNG

[Graphic from Wikipedia]

More than just education, this group maintains a strong place in the workforce with a high percentage holding managerial positions.  This group also enjoys a higher median household income, the highest of any Asian-American group.  However, this fact is also due in part because of the concentration in urban areas, which typically boast higher median wages.

Indian Income Graphic.PNG

 [Graphic from Wikipedia]



Pew Research Indians.PNG

[Graphic from Pew Research Center]



According to Pew research Center, the majority of Indians practice Hinduism (51%) while Christianity/Protestantism follows at a very distant second (18%) and Islam is third (10%).

Indian Religion Graphic.PNG


[Graphic from Pew Research Center]



The average age of the Asian-Indian American is 37 with seven-in-ten adults being married.  The average for all American adults being married is 51%.  This culture places a high importance on marriage and many still practice the tradition of the "arranged marriage" where one's parents choose a suitable spouse.

Based on surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, Asian-Indian Americans feel that being a good parent is the most important thing to them personally.  The majority are also likely to say that familial ties are stronger in their birth country than in the U.S.


The majority of Asian-Indian Americans (65%) identify with the Democratic Party while less than one-in-five (18%) identify with the Republican Party.  This is also apparent in the approval of President Obama's job in leading the country which is strong at 65%.


The following cultural dimensions analysis is taken directly from and is the starting point for anyone looking to get a basic idea of the cultural foundation of a particular nation. 

The graph below shows how India compares with the U.S. on the cultural dimensions scale:

Indian Cultural Dimensions Graphic.PNG

[Graphic from]

And although the target group is already living in America, particularly with Asians, there is a strong tie to the beliefs and behaviors of their national heritage.  This is due in part to their collectivist society, which is explained in greater detail by the analysis below:

Power Distance

This dimension deals with the fact that all individuals in societies are not equal - it expresses the attitude of the culture towards these inequalities amongst us.

Power distance is defined as the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country expect and accept that power is distributed unequally.

India scores high on this dimension, 77, indicating an appreciation for hierarchy and a Top - Down Structure in society and Organizations. If one were to encapsulate the Indian attitude, one could use the following words and phrases: dependent on the boss or the power holder for direction, acceptance of unequal rights between the power-privileged and those who are lesser down in the pecking order, immediate superiors accessible but one layer above less so, paternalistic leader, management directs, gives reason / meaning to ones work life and rewards in exchange for loyalty from employees. Real Power is centralized even though it may not appear to be and managers count on the obedience of their team members. Employees expect to be directed clearly as to their functions and what is expected of them. Control is familiar, even a psychological security, and attitude towards managers are formal even if one is on first name basis. Communication is top down and directive in its style and often feedback which is negative is never offered up the ladder.


The fundamental issue addressed by this dimension is the degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members. It has to do with whether people´s self-image is defined in terms of "I" or "We".

In Individualist societies people are supposed to look after themselves and their direct family only. In Collectivist societies people belong to 'in groups' that take care of them in exchange for loyalty.

India, with a score of 48, is a society with clear collectivistic traits. This means that there is a high preference for belonging to a larger social framework in which individuals are expected to act in accordance to the greater good of one's defined in-group(s). In such situations, the actions of the individual are influenced by various concepts such as the opinion of one's family, extended family, neighbors, work group and other such wider social networks that one has some affiliation toward. For a collectivist, to be rejected by one's peers or to be thought lowly of by one's extended and immediate in-groups, leaves him or her rudderless and with a sense of intense emptiness. The employer/employee relationship is one of expectations based on expectations - Loyalty by the employee and almost familial protection by the Employer. Hiring and promotion decisions are often made based on relationships which are the key to everything in a Collectivist society.

Masculinity / Femininity

A high score (masculine) on this dimension indicates that the society will be driven by competition, achievement and success, with success being defined by the winner / best in field - a value system that starts in school and continues throughout organizational behavior.

A low score (feminine) on the dimension means that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life. A feminine society is one where quality of life is the sign of success and standing out from the crowd is not admirable. The fundamental issue here is what motivates people, wanting to be the best (masculine) or liking what you do (feminine).

India scores 56 on this dimension and is thus considered a masculine society. Even though it is mildly above the mid-range in score, India is actually very masculine in terms of visual display of success and power. The designer brand label, the flash and bling that goes with advertising one's success, is widely practiced. However, India is also a spiritual country with millions of deities and various religious philosophies. It is also an ancient country with one of the longest surviving cultures which gives it ample lessons in the value of humility and abstinence. This often reigns in people from indulging in Masculine displays to the extent that they might be naturally inclined to. In more Masculine countries the focus is on success and achievements, validated by material gains. Work is the center of one's life and visible symbols of success in the work place are very important.

Uncertainty Avoidance

The dimension Uncertainty Avoidance has to do with the way that a society deals with the fact that the future can never be known: should we try to control the future or just let it happen? This ambiguity brings with it anxiety and different cultures have learnt to deal with this anxiety in different ways. The extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these is reflected in the UAI score.

India scores 40 on this dimension and thus has a medium low preference for avoiding uncertainty. In India, there is acceptance of imperfection; nothing has to be perfect nor has to go exactly as planned. India is traditionally a patient country where tolerance for the unexpected is high; even welcomed as a break from monotony. People generally do not feel driven and compelled to take action-initiatives and comfortably settle into established rolls and routines without questioning. Rules are often in place just to be circumvented and one relies on innovative methods to "bypass the system". A word used often is "adjust" and means a wide range of things, from turning a blind eye to rules being flouted to finding a unique and inventive solution to a seemingly insurmountable problem. It is this attitude that is both the cause of misery as well as the most empowering aspect of the country. There is a saying that "nothing is impossible" in India, so long as one knows how to "adjust".

Long term orientation

The long term orientation dimension is closely related to the teachings of Confucius and can be interpreted as dealing with society's search for virtue, the extent to which a society shows a pragmatic future-oriented perspective rather than a conventional historical short-term point of view.

The Indians score 61, making it a long term, pragmatic culture. In India, the concept of "karma" dominates religious and philosophical thought. Time is not linear, and thus not as important as to western societies which typically score low on this dimension. Countries like India have a great tolerance for religious views from all over the world - Hinduism is often considered a philosophy more than even a religion; an amalgamation of ideas, views, practices and esoteric beliefs. In India there is an acceptance that there are many truths and often depends on the seeker. Societies that have a high score on Long Term Orientation, typically forgive lack of punctuality, a changing game-plan based on changing reality and a general comfort with discovering the fated path as one goes along rather than playing to an exact plan.


Asian-Indian Americans, much like other minorities, have to deal with discrimination and stereotyping that can negatively impact social relationships. One stereotype is that because some Indians wear turbans they must be Muslim or Muslim extremists. For example, shortly after the September 11th attacks, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh living in Phoenix, was murdered by a white supremacist. The murderer, Frank Silva Roque, said that the turban made him think that Sodhi was a Middle Eastern American. Another stereotype is that all Asian-Indian Americans own gas stations and/or convenience stores. Hollywood has done little to lessen this image and even Hillary Clinton was criticized for using this stereotype as a punch line during a fundraising event while she was a senator in New York.

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According to news sources like The Guardian, India's journalists have been burdened with the reputation of offering up "paid news", also referred to in other places as "pay to play". This is when news outlets and journalists provide positive news coverage for politicians, organizations and celebrities in exchange for money. This type of system creates skepticism from audience members and needs to be taken into consideration not only when crafting your message, but also in the dissemination to individuals coming from this environment.



According to Stanford University the leading health issues are:

·         Cardiovascular disease

·         Hypertension

·         Diabetes

·         Cancer

·         Nutritional deficits

·         Tuberculosis

·         Malaria.

·         Dental caries and periodontal disease

·         Sickle cell disease, in selected populations

It is also important to note that many in the elder population have a strong belief in Ayurvedic Medicine, a health system which takes all life aspects into consideration when treating patients.  These factors include mind, body and spirit, which is similar to what we call holistic care, but this system also factors karma into the equation when offering prognosis.





With very little representation in American media, there are few opportunities for influence to the Indian Diaspora in the U.S.  However, the Atlantic Monthly recently compiled a Top 50 list of influential bloggers and columnists helping to shape national debates.  On this list was Mumbai-born Fareed Zakaria who came in at number 17.  He was also conferred India Abroad's Person of the Year 2008.  A respected journalist here and abroad, Fareed Zakaria is an ideal opinion leader for Asian-Indian Americans.



fareed zakaria.jpg 



[Graphic from CNN]


According to "Targeting Asian-Indian American Consumers", by Jacob M. Chacko of Clayton State University, marketers who wish to successfully target this community must remain aware of the four most important values that are factors in much of what this group considers relevant.  These factors are education, family, respect for age, and the importance of traditional values.


Individuals and organizations will also want to keep in mind that in addition to the above-mentioned factors, many of these immigrants also come here to improve their financial standing.  By subtly addressing this fact and without contradicting collectivist ideals the savvy marketer will gain an edge in message design.


And since the majority of this community speaks English, ads and messages should be done in English while containing cultural nods that respectfully recognize the significant epitomes this public adheres to.


By incorporating these strong identifications into your messages, you and your organization will speak to the heart of what this community holds dear.




Chacko, Jacob M., Targeting Asian-Indian American Consumers, Journal of International Business and Cultural Studies


Pew Research Center: Rise of Asian Americans (2012)

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I think it's pretty interesting that here at Penn State we don't have a place of worship for Indian-American students who are Hindu. Since 51% of all Indian-American people are Hindu, I think a university like Penn State should have a place of worship for these students, especially because religious beliefs and values seem to be very important to this group.

Casey, I thought this was so informative and really well put together! I was really interested by all the influence Western culture is having on Indian-Americans, particularly how you showed similarities in pop culture such as Bollywood films and magazines. I realized as you were presenting how little I knew about the culture myself, and I feel like I was able to gain a much better grasp of some of the basics from the information you shared. I was also really surprised by the trends of censorship in media in India, just how much was too much and what is deemed appropriate is so different than here, yet at the same time I was able to draw some similarities between America and India.
Some of the points, like the article on the actor who quit smoking, struck me as odd because of how dramatically less serious that is when compared to a story on someone like Lindsay Lohan. My favorite (and most helpful) part of the presentation for me was the visual graphs, charts, and clips you shared with us. It gave me clear-cut insight into just how this group chalks up in the advertising market and buying power, and paired with your explanations I could really see why it was important to use the right tools to target them. I also liked the use of an influential figure to reach out to the demographic you were studying, because providing a specific example makes reaching the market a more realistic possibility.
Overall, I thought this was extremely helpful and would be an effective guide to a potential marketer wanting to breach this cultural barrier. I’m glad I got to watch you first, and I’m sure I’ll be able to incorporate some of what you did into my own presentation as well. Great work!

There is a lot of great research to support all the claims you made in you presentation on Tuesday. The demographic of Asian Indians is particularly interesting to me because I live in an area in Queens, NY where there is a large population of Asian Indians. The most interesting research you pointed out was the level of education attainment. My beliefs purely based on stereotypes would have believed the level of education attainment in the Chinese population would have been higher. I also enjoyed the clip of the Bollywood movie that you shared in class. Whenever I am in New York and go to get my eyebrows done the Indian women have Bollywood movies on. It was clear that there was a westernization effect on the clip you shared in class compared to the clips I have seen in the past.

I really enjoyed your blog and presentation, Casey. I found it to be extremely informative. Your perspectives on the hip-hop influence of current Bollywood films was really interesting. Your blog is very well organized and easy to read, it shows a real knowledge of the demographic.

I really enjoyed your presentation. You shared a lot of information and some things that were similar to what I researched which was very attention grabbing. I liked how you pointed out similarities and differences between your film and facts about Asian-Indians cultures and how the film showed a more sexual side than what's usually percieved.

I really liked your use of graphs and chats to create a more vivid picture. I took away things I didn't know previously, so that's always a plus!

Great presentation Casey!

I found your presentation to be very informative and compelling. You had a lot of supporting statistics to back up all your statements which made your presentation very strong. Your pictures and graphs help to aid your content making everything very visually stimulating...Great job!!

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