Thursday, January 05, 2006

Trendwatch: Learning about emerging markets

Everyone loves an emerging market. That’s where the business will come from in the future, we’re told. Of course, savvy marketers know that business doesn’t usually come; you have to go after it. That’s why I’m impressed with the work Freddie Mac has been doing in this area.

Recently, the company released a new report based on 30 focus groups it conducted with nearly 300 Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Asian Indian and Filipino immigrants; American-born Asian consumers; and Asian real estate professionals to gain a better understanding of the cultural norms and expectations of Asian first-time homebuyers.

Asians represent the second fastest growing minority population in the United States, and many of these immigrant households will become homeowners in the coming decades.

Homeward Bound: An In-depth Look at Asian Homebuyers in the United States is available now on Freddie's website.

According to Freddie Mac, the key findings include:
  • the need to feel financially ready, stable and secure before they can consider buying a home;
  • an aversion to debt and the need to determine the most cost-conscious financing package; and
  • a lack of knowledge about the homebuying process.

The focus groups uncovered certain cultural norms, beliefs and behaviors associated with Asians that affect their feelings of readiness to purchase a home. These factors may delay Asian consumers’ timeline for buying a home by years, and may discourage eligible low- to moderate-income buyers from entering the market altogether. If they feel they don’t understand the process, people in this ethnic group will not approach the transaction.

So how do you get information into the hands of these future homebuyers? A majority of participants, especially fluent English-speakers, said they use the Internet to search for real estate agents, properties or interest rates. Other sources of information include in-language newspapers and fliers that are commonly distributed in local, ethnic supermarkets and stores. Some participants said they get information from their banks.

It may also be useful to recall that many of the Pacific Rim counties are more advanced than the U.S. when it comes to consumer electronics. Expect many of these folks to be carrying portable MP3 players and subscribing to podcasts.

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