Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Representing Asians

I love that professor here are down-to-earth and very open to hearing people's thoughts on different issues. I'm taking two luxury marketing classes as well as a services marketing class, and all my professors seem to be quite interested in Asia, particularly China, Japan, and India. For luxury goods and luxury services (e.g., hotels), Asia represents a huge market. However, there is a certain comfort professors have with being politically incorrect and I wonder if this is abnormal, or if Americans are just too sensitive. For example:

  1. Asian students are constantly singled out to speak on behalf of their entire ethnic group: "So what do Chinese consumers think of this?"
  2. When making points about Armani in Asia, the professor stares at the Asian students
  3. The professor remarks "too bad there is no Japanese person in this group" when a group is about to present on Burberry's Asian expansion, particularly into Japan. Apparently, only Japanese people can credibly determine how Burberry is faring in Japan.
  4. One professor, who is trying to make a point about China, points to an Asian student and says "Let's hear what the Chinese students think." The student replies quietly "I'm Japanese." The professor continues. He points at 3 more students asking "Are you Chinese? Are you Chinese? Are you Chinese?" He gives up on the fourth try. I stay silent.
  5. For a group project, my teammate reaches out to the professor to find out if he has insider industry information (which he tends to have since he meets with executives often) on how successful Jimmy Choo is in Asia. He does not have any data. Instead, he suggests that we conduct a survey among the school's Chinese students to see if they are aware of Jimmy Choo, and to use awareness as a gauge for success. Hmm......... We are being asked to make conclusions about the Asian market based on brand awareness from a sample of ~30 Chinese students who decided to study at a school known for its luxury marketing program. Biased self-selected sample group? Statistically insignificant sample size? Sweeping conclusions about Asians using only an ethnic group? Mckeon would be proud of me.
My poor roommate fears that she is not getting any participation points in class because she isn't Asian. I, on the other hand, have decided to embrace my Chinese heritage and to take advantage of the enormous amount of credibility I have from just looking Asian. I will speak confidently about how all Chinese people love Louis Vuitton even though I've only been to China once (discounting Hong Kong). I will tell my classmates what Bottega's future is in Japan. I will make claims about what makes Jimmy Choo successful in Asia, without using any data to support my points. Personal stories should be enough.

At least my participation credit is skyrocketing here.

1 comment:

  1. hehe i was literally laughing out loud in some parts. i love your stories!