Bastion research finds Australian brands fall short in awareness with Asian-Australian consumers

Bastion Cross-Cultural Insights

The study found that Asian consumers in Australia more readily recognised non-Australian brands than local ones

Bastion Cross-Cultural Insights has found that Australian brands are falling short when it comes to driving awareness and positive engagement with Asian-Australian consumers.

The Top 100 Brands by Asian Australians study examined how well Australian brands are recognised and embraced by the Asian-Australian community. It found that Australian brands have some catching up to do when it comes to growing awareness among Asian consumers in Australia, who more readily recognise non-Australian brands than local ones.

The migrant population is now the majority, not the niche

The findings present both a challenge and opportunity for Australian brands seeking to engage with culturally diverse communities, given new and recent migrants now make up the majority of the Australian population. ABS statistics from 2021 show first- and second-generation migrants (born overseas or born in Australia to parents born overseas) now comprise more than half of the population (51%).

Since 2015, most of that migration has come from Asia, which by 2020 accounted for almost 3.5 million of the Australian population – over one million more than migrants from Europe.

Despite Asian-Australians accounting for a large portion of our multicultural population, the study found Australian brands struggling to find a voice to capture the attention of the Asian-Australian consumer market.

Local brands fall short in awareness and engagement
Overall, average awareness of 100 Australian brands across the destination, events, hotels, and airlines categories was low (19% average awareness) relative to non-Australian brands (29%).
Even when awareness of particular Australian brands was high, consumer sentiment towards them often lagged non-Australian brands. While Crown (75%) and Qantas (72%) scored higher than average on awareness, recognisability didn’t translate to positive engagement, with about one in three respondents reporting feeling ‘neutral’ about both brands (37% and 30% respectively). 
In the events, major landmarks, and destination space, more than eight in 10 respondents liked or loved Sydney Opera House, Australia Zoo, Queen Victoria Market and accessible, city-wide events Vivid Sydney and Sydney Festival.
Major sporting events, however, were less appealing to the multicultural audience, with large numbers of respondents reporting having no feelings towards the AFL (45%), Melbourne Cup (51%) and Australian Open (33%).
Steven Howlett
, managing director Bastion Insights, said: “More than ever Australian brands need to embrace the challenge to build awareness and a greater positive engagement with Asian Australians.
“Bastion Cross-Cultural Insights is helping Australian businesses close the gap and create opportunities amongst this important group of consumers.
“The Asian community is not a minority, but a powerful group of consumers that all Australian brands should be speaking to,” Howlett added.
Brand loyal, driven by recommendations
The study revealed Asian Australian consumers to be a very brand loyal demographic, with more than eight in 10 Asian consumers (84%) reporting they continue to buy from brands they love.
The findings also revealed Asian consumers to be highly sophisticated buyers who look to the experience of others in their cultural and social circle when making brand choices. A whopping 80% said they would buy from brands recommended by friends and family.
Cultural respect is key to engagement
Three in 10 (30%) said they would buy from a brand that partners with key Asian influencers. Eight in 10 (81%) preferred brands that understood and respected their cultural heritage, with two in three (64%) reporting they were more likely to buy from brands that communicate in language.
Brands seeking to engage with the Asian market in Australia should consider how they can leverage the community as advocates to help champion and promote their brand.
Bastion’s findings indicate the key to growing awareness among this cohort is to deliver respectful, meaningful engagement and experiences within their communities. Additionally, to capture the hearts and loyalty of today’s Asian consumers, brands need to go beyond a premium and exclusive positioning and articulate a narrative about who they are and what they stand for.
Isabel Zhang
, general manager, Cross-Cultural Insights said cultural intelligence and knowledge were key to brands’ success in this market: “Many Australian brands and organisations, remain in a very transactional relationship with our multicultural CALD communities; this will not lead to any conversions. 
“The report will offer insights to our brands on building more meaningful engagements with our CALD communities, then conversion and brand loyalty.”
About the survey
Bastion Insights conducted the omnibus research from March-May 2022, with 500 respondents drawn from its Golden Voice Community – the first local, independent, in-language research community in Australia, specifically for culturally and linguistically diverse Australians.
The cohort of Asian residents of Australia, international students and past residents were asked about awareness and likeability of the top 100 brands in Australia across the destination/entertainment venue, events, airline, hotel, and sports industries, with the list of brands reviewed by peak industry bodies.

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