By Rela Manigsaca • 2017 Past President
According to the Greater Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce (GAACC), Asian Americans comprise 7 percent of the City of Austin’s population and this ranking puts Austin ninth in the country. The five highest groups by country of origin are Indian, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Filipino, in that order, with the first three making up approximately 70 percent of the Asian American population here. As such, the chance of any of us having served clients from any one of these countries is high. So in the spirit of the holidays, I wanted to share a few guidelines about gift-giving according to the cultures of the countries mentioned above.
Indian – Gifts made of leather may offend Hindus who are vegetarian.
Chinese – Gifts should never be wrapped in white paper. Gifts of white or yellow flowers, especially chrysanthemums, should never be given. White is associated with death.
Vietnamese – Gifts for children and elderly parents in the home will be much appreciated.
Korean – They do not accept a gift at first offering, you must insist that they accept.
Filipino – Gifts are typically not opened in the presence of the giver.
In general though, the last four are very common among most of the Asian people. However, second generation Asian Americans may not have these sensitivities or traditions and if they do, they are only lightly attached to them.
There are many that might say, “the heck with that, we all live in the United States of America. When in Rome, do what Romans do. When in the U.S., do what Americans do.” Yes, you don’t have to heed these guidelines, of course. But if you do, you are showing your Asian American clients that you have some idea of their cultural background and they will appreciate you more for it. They may even refer you to their friends and family too. For after all, these people groups love to compare notes and are loyal to those who are not just competent, but demonstrate empathy for their cultures.
Do you want more business from the fastest growing demographic group in Austin? Heeding these simple Asian-style gift guidelines may be your first step in this season of giving! RL