By Leirum Rivas, Copywriter
A lot is being said about the steady growth of Asian “micro-towns” across the country. But when you see this at a macro level, with other growing Latino and Middle Eastern communities, the core of this is the rise of diversity. The way of intertwined cultures, sharing and mingling more every day.
From a local perspective, the growing Asian markets in Dallas are not only a reflection of the growing Asian population, but also a response to an audience who strives for new culinary experiences and exploring choices. People across ethnicities and races are looking for diversity, for new things to be discovered, experimented and shared.
As Takaaki Hamamatsu, general manager of Mitsuwa Japanese Marketplace Store remarks “People are interested in healthy foods today, and they see a lot of Japanese products as healthy alternatives” Jill Cowan for Dallas News
Let the numbers do the talking
I know, there’s a lot being said about diversity, but the truth is that in the long run diversity will be the norm.
Americans are more racially and ethnically diverse than in the past, and the U.S. is projected to be even more diverse in the coming decades. By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority. Over the next five decades, the majority of U.S. population growth is projected to be linked to new Asian and Hispanic immigration. D’Vera Cohn and Andrea Caumont-Pew Research Center
And with diversity, comes the love of exploration; of learning more about other cultures and appropriating what we feel complements our lifestyles, and even our own traditions.
What can we learn from these Asian Markets?
Sense of community and integrating forces. These “markets” are located on spacious areas and are comprised of a variety of shops, from restaurants to bars, bookstores to bakeries. And they all benefit from each other because every market is an invitation for discovery. You can have dinner at one restaurant and then grab dessert at another, buy a little something for later or just wander around. It’s a win-win scenario, where one vendor complements the other.
Diversity within diversity. Unlike other cities where there are “towns” dedicated to a specific community: Chinatown, Koreatown, etc., in Dallas there’s a flourishing concept of different cultures sharing the same business space. On Old Denton Road in Carrollton, there’s a growing Asian strip mall where people can stroll from famous Japanese Discount Store DAISO, to Korean grocery store HMart, among many other shops and restaurants.
Authenticity. Or let’s call it the “traveling without traveling” effect. These places represent a recreational option for non-Asian visitors who see these markets as a weekend plan, where they can try something different not far away from home. But above all, people get a sense of exploring something “authentic.” They get the feeling of immersing in the Asian community for a moment. Also for Asian immigrants, they represent a home away from home, and for second generations, a place to stay in touch with their roots.
Language in situ. And language ties it all together. It establishes the sense of community and, above all, authenticity. When visiting these “towns” it is common to listen and appreciate the use of different Asian languages, and even advertising is customized and created for these specific communities. Although, interesting enough, this is where languages mingle as well. Japanese store, Mitsuwa, runs a biweekly flyer written in Japanese but has added a Chinese and English version to attract a broader audience.
Finally, the great fusion.
This takes us to a great question. How do you advertise in these markets? How does a brand approach these growing and diverse communities? Maybe, the secret is finding the sweet spot of fusion, without losing relevance.
Every day, America is evolving and shaping a new audience, open to adopting flavors, cultures and preferences that were not thought of in the past.
PS: I’m a Venezuelan-Puerto Rican fascinated by Asian culture, and love spending an afternoon wandering in these markets and always looking for a great foodie experience. If you’re in town, I recommend you stop by Carrollton and trying my favorite dish from Japanese restaurant ABE: The Salmon Eki Ben. Eki Ben is a shortened version for Eki Bento boxes and are sold at train stations across Japan.