Silenced Voices: How Brands Can Break Barriers and Empower Asian American Creators

A progressive marketing approach demands continuous education and learning

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Although Asian Americans make up a significant portion of the U.S. population, there is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of creating a more inclusive and diverse creator economy. Unfortunately, Asian Americans are often overlooked and underrepresented in the media and advertising industries, resulting in only 3% of Asians feeling adequately represented in the ads they see. As an Asian American marketing founder, I have seen firsthand the lack of opportunities when working with brands that were previously unaware of certain biased decisions they were making.

A recent study conducted by the University of Southern California revealed that Asian actors only accounted for 4.5% of speaking roles in movies from the last decade, and Asian Americans represented only 3.4% of all broadcast scripted series regulars during the 2020-21 television season. This underrepresentation is particularly worrisome in light of the growing importance of the creator economy, where social media platforms are crucial for content creation and brand promotion.

However, this presents a significant opportunity for brands that want to create diverse campaigns and amplify the voices of Asian creators.

Look for the creators empowering the community

Supporting diversity is not only the right thing to do but is also reflective of a good business ethos. According to a recent Nielsen study, 85% of Asian American consumers believe that companies should support social issues that matter to them, and 72% are more likely to support companies committed to promoting diversity.

To create campaigns that celebrate diversity and equitable representation, brands need to collaborate with creators actively. This involves actively seeking out diverse voices and perspectives and empowering creators to tell their own stories authentically. Brands also need to be willing to engage in honest and open conversations about representation and equity, as well as take concrete steps to address any gaps in their influencer marketing strategy.

Sometimes, the most impactful brands and the strongest voices come from creators themselves, like Deepica Mutyala. Mutyala has made a significant impact on the Asian American community, particularly in the beauty industry, by addressing the lack of representation and diversity. As an Indian American woman, she founded LiveTinted, a beauty brand that caters to various skin tones and fosters a community of inclusivity.

Mutyala’s advocacy resonates with underrepresented individuals and has inspired others in the industry to pursue diversity. Additionally, her visibility has opened doors for fellow Asian American beauty influencers and entrepreneurs, empowering them to share their stories and creativity, ultimately benefiting the broader Asian American community.

An ever-changing goal vs. fixed endpoint

Here are 5 actionable tips that brands can use to identify and better connect with diverse creators.

Research and identify potential creators. Begin by researching diverse creators, including AAPI and Asian American creators, who align with brand values and target audience. Look for creators from various backgrounds, cultures and niches with unique perspectives and content styles. Use social media platforms, creator databases and industry events to find potential partners.

Engage and build relationships. Develop authentic connections with diverse creators by engaging with their content, attending their events or reaching out to them directly. Show genuine interest in their work, and make an effort to understand their experiences, perspectives and creative visions. Building strong relationships can lead to successful long-term partnerships.

Co-create inclusive campaigns. Collaborate with diverse creators to develop inclusive marketing campaigns that represent different perspectives and resonate with a wide audience. Give creators the freedom to express their creativity and ideas, while still keeping focus on brand goals. This way, you can create a win-win situation for both parties and promote diversity within the industry.

Offer fair compensation and support. Ensure that diverse creators receive fair compensation for their work and support them by providing resources, guidance and opportunities for growth. This may include offering workshops, mentorship or networking opportunities, in addition to monetary support.

Promote and celebrate diverse creators. Showcase the work of diverse creators by sharing their content on your brand’s social media channels, website or other marketing materials. Celebrate their achievements and acknowledge their contributions to your brand’s success. This will not only highlight the creator’s work, but also demonstrate your commitment to the values they embody.

By adhering to these guidelines, brands can more effectively recognize and engage with diverse content creators, fostering campaigns that highlight the splendor of diversity and representation. The efforts don’t stop after launching a single diverse campaign, as diversity is an ever-changing goal rather than a fixed endpoint.

As societal norms shift and develop, so do consumer requirements and expectations. In the realm of diversity and inclusion, merely fulfilling quotas is insufficient. A progressive marketing approach demands continuous education and learning, as well as an openness to listen and adapt based on feedback from consumers and communities. By treating diversity as a perpetually evolving subject, brands can establish powerful and meaningful relationships with consumers, showcasing authentic inclusivity and social accountability.

In the end, I am hopeful about the future of the creator economy and the impact that Asian American and AAPI creators can have in shaping it. By harnessing the strength of representation, we can develop campaigns that not only generate business outcomes but also motivate and empower global audiences.