May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. A month where, especially in the wake of the unprecedented rise of anti-AAPI racism, we celebrate the AAPI history and culture. Why May? Well, according to NPR, there are two dates in May that hold great significance with the AAPI community: May 7th, 1843, the day when the first Japanese immigrants came to the US, and May 10, 1869, which marks the completion of the first transcontinental railroad—built with significant contributions from Chinese workers.
Each year, the month has a dedicated theme and the theme this year is “Advancing Leaders Through Collaboration.” Cynthia Choi, co-executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, told NPR, “This is a celebration of our history, of our culture…and all the different ways in which our community has really demonstrated that we’re not only here to stay, we are a part of this fabric—a part of this country.”
As a brand, showing support during AAPI Heritage Month means taking a vocal stand. In the past, brands may have shied away from sharing their beliefs but, today, customers expect more. As Forbes said, “Brands that integrate their ongoing commitment to doing better for the earth, communities, and individuals, into the core of their business can impact their bottom line while also effecting positive change around the globe.”
Let’s take a closer look at how brands are shifting their marketing strategies during AAPI Heritage Month.
1. Collaborate with the AAPI Community
Getaway, a vacation rental brand, collaborated with AAPI leaders and customers to celebrate the month. In their email they highlight three members of the AAPI community and showcase their skills—each with a different story.
Each story is a journal entry on the Getaway site. This collaboration advances the leadership of these influencers, bringing their experiences to the forefront and sharing their talents. Getaway does a nice job of blending their brand and vision with support of the AAPI community. In addition to celebrating these stories, Getaway has a CTA at the bottom, allowing customers to take their own action in support of the AAPI community.
2. Highlight AAPI Creators and AAPI-Owned Brands
Uncommon Goods, an online retailer, sources their unique items from a variety of different artists and creators. For AAPI Heritage Month, Uncommon Goods used their marketing emails to highlight curated items created by AAPI business owners—with everything from dumpling kits to bookends. To expand upon this email, Uncommon Goods also created a landing page that features all of their products by AAPI creators. This gives customers an easy way to support the community while also shopping with a brand that does the same.
One recommendation for Uncommon Goods would be to make this a series. Rather than fitting all five stories in one email, one or two stories could have been a single email, giving each creator an “above-the-fold” opportunity.
3. Individualize Content for Higher Engagement and AAPI Support
Lastly, we have the food delivery app, Caviar. Food is often synonymous with culture and, since Caviar is a food delivery service, they shifted this email to focus on AAPI-owned restaurants. In addition to offering a $5 coupon on any $20 order, expiring at the end of the month, Caviar used location-based email marketing to customize dynamic content.
Caviar is using customers’ locations to feed personalized content. The bottom of this email mentions “local spots” and features a list of restaurants in the Oakland, California area. Here, Caviar brilliantly cross-referenced AAPI-owned restaurants, zip codes, and a selected radius around the zip code to create a perfectly curated list of restaurant recommendations.
You’ll notice that all of these brands collaborated with and highlighted members of the AAPI community in ways that align with their businesses—demonstrating authenticity. When brands show support of a cause in a way that is disjointed and unrelated to the brand itself, it’s almost like pandering to the audience. It can look like your brand is using the cause rather than supporting it. That’s a good way to lose loyal customers. Be sure the way your brand collaborates with communities makes sense for both parties involved.
How Iterable is Showing Support
We’re not just talking the talk. We, too, want to be sure we’re supporting the AAPI community this, and every, month. For AAPI Heritage Month, our Asians & Pacific Islanders Affinity Group is organizing museum visits for Iterators in each Iterable office location. This includes trips to the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, the Denver Art Museum, the Rubin Museum of Art in New York, and the British Museum in London.
David Chang, one of the leaders of the API Affinity Group said, “We are looking forward to celebrating AAPI Heritage Month through our first in-person events. We established our Affinity Group during the pandemic and are excited to build relationships within our community. The museums and exhibits we chose are AAPI/API themed, so we hope this will also be a learning experience for everyone. There is amazing depth and history in the API community. This is the perfect time to appreciate and reflect on what has become before us.”
The Affinity Group is also organizing a virtual AAPI-themed trivia event as “another way for us to share knowledge and learnings with the API Affinity Group and the rest of the company,” said David, “We wanted to make sure we were inclusive to all of our remote folks and also do it in a fun, engaging way!”
Taking a Stand
May is meant to bring awareness to—and garner support for—the AAPI community, but that support should last long after May ends. Let this month serve as a reminder for brands and customers to continuously advocate for the AAPI community and all underrepresented minorities.