All posts by Rachel Wilhoit

Ethnic Names Turned Mainstream

There’s a new gold mine for data scientists: The Social Security Administration’s 2017 baby name data.

It’s been one month since the latest data playground opened up. The Social Security Administration released the 2017 baby name data on Mother’s Day and I’ve been playing around in it ever since.

After I discovered that LIAM was the most popular baby name for boys born in 2017, I went on a search for names that are currently undergoing a similar evolution: ethnic names becoming American.

LIAM exemplifies an ethnic name turned mainstream – the most mainstream, in fact. LIAM was once heavily marked as being Irish. Nearly 41% of adult Americans with this name have Irish heritage.* The name gained increased popularity in 1995 and broke into the Top 100 baby names by 2006. Due to its recent widespread use, there could soon be a potential drop in Irish heritage attached to LIAM.

Jumping an impressive 800 ranks in under a decade, the girls’ name ARYA means ‘noble’ in Persian. Currently, the name sits at the No. 135 spot. ARYA’s increased usage is likely the result of pop culture influence; the name Arya belongs to the fearless younger daughter in the illustrious series, Game of Thrones. The beloved character is a good reason Americans of diverse cultural backgrounds would name their daughter ARYA.

KAI also illustrates the name change from ethnic to American. The name appears on both the boys’ and the girls’ lists, sitting at Nos. 127 and 804, respectively. KAI has a number of diverse derivations, including Chinese, Japanese, Estonian, and Swahili. In 2017, it was highly Chinese in the United States. Roughly 35% of adult Americans named KAI had Chinese heritage. That percentage is likely to decrease over time as this name continues to be favored for newborns.

Whether you’re a name hobbyist or name data analyst, ethnic names breaching the mainstream is a really useful insight into a multiculturally evolving society. As these names transition from highly ethnic to quintessentially American, this could change the way you see popular names or how you look at your multicultural data!

*Diversity percentages based on a study of Ethnic Technologies data applied to US consumer marketing database.

Ethnic Technologies supports Asian American Heritage with new product, ACCESS INDIA

As Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month concludes this week, Ethnic Technologies recognizes the growing and influential Asian Indian community, one of the many Asian/Pacific groups in the United States. With that in mind, Ethnic Technologies launched ACCESS INDIA, a new market insight that delivers unprecedented granularity.

Asian Indians are the fastest growing immigrant group in the United States.

This rapidly expanding consumer demographic is an affluent and highly educated market segment. Based on reporting from the Pew Research Center, in 2010:

• 87.2% of Indian American adults were foreign-born, higher than other Asian immigrant groups
• 70% of Indian Americans aged 25 and older had college degrees, 2.5 times the rate among the overall U.S. population
• The median annual household income for Indian Americans was $88,000, 1.8 times the median annual income of all U.S. households

“Despite these commonalities, Asian Indians are a diverse population whose different religions, languages and cultures drive different perspectives and purchasing behaviors,” said Lisa Spira, Director of Research and Product Development at Ethnic Technologies, who led the diversity-focused research behind the new product.

ACCESS INDIA incorporates extensive research and leading-edge technology, enabling you to engage consumers from this rapidly-growing and culturally diverse demographic.

“This May, many of our clients explored Asian market opportunities by discussing, testing, and purchasing ACCESS INDIA,” remarked Karen Sinisi, Director of Sales at Ethnic Technologies. “We’re encouraged by the extremely positive response to this insightful product that reaches many new, high value customers.”

As May 2018 comes to end, more and more companies are finding new or engaging their current Asian Indian consumer base with ACCESS INDIA.

Ethnic Technologies: Celebrating Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month

This May, E-Tech is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month by highlighting the representation of South Asian people in America. As one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States and Canada in the last decade, South Asian Americans have a stronger voice than ever. Here are three ways in which this group has become more influential in North America:

• South Asian citizens have become a powerful piece of the American electorate,
increasing in some segments by over 400%.

• In addition to growth in major metropolitan areas, South Asian-American populations have grown in “smaller” metropolitan areas such as Charlotte, NC, Phoenix, AZ, San Antonio, TX, and Jacksonville, Florida.

• As of 2015, 32% of Asian Indian adults have obtained a higher education degree, a rate which is almost double the education level compared to the United States as a whole.

As expected with such a large and growing population in the United States, South Asian Americans hold complex experiences and identities as individuals. This is why E-Tech’s Access India product helps to recognize this population at a more granular level, and representing ten different Asian Indian cultures: Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu and Bengali. Access India enables more actionable communication and accurate representation of your consumers, and we recognize the importance of this initiative not just during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month but all year long.

Beyond “Boy” and “Girl” Names

We assume that most names are gendered, but these multicultural names will turn that assumption upside down. In today’s world of one-to-one marketing, you don’t want to leave these people out:

JEAN
We’ve all heard the name JEAN. Celebrity bearers include renowned tennis player, Billie Jean King, and Old Hollywood stars, Jean Harlow, Jean Seberg, and Norma Jean Baker (famously Marilyn Monroe). Continue reading Beyond “Boy” and “Girl” Names

Ethnic Technologies Talks Names at American Name Society Conference

Ethnic Technologies makes yet another appearance at the American Name Society Conference – the ninth one in a row!

This year, on behalf of Ethnic Technologies, Director of Research & Product Development, Lisa Spira, and Product Design Analyst, Amy Franz, attended the conference in order to promote the E-Tech product as well as network with other professional and academic linguists.

The American Name Society is held in conjunction with the Linguistics Society of America each year in a different US city. This year, it took place in early January in Salt Lake City, Utah.

As self-proclaimed name nerds, Lisa and Amy were happy to present their respective topics in onomastics among fellow onomasticians.

It was Amy’s first time speaking at the conference. She promoted Ethnic Technologies’ predictive gender product, G-Tech. Gender might seem straightforward, but Amy elaborated on how multicultural names can complicate the system.

She addressed multiple different (made-up) examples of names and how their gender differs for individuals of different ethnicities. Amy ended her talk by explaining how G-Tech is a culturally sensitive way to better understand and engage with your marketing audience in a way that completely avoids dependency on personally identifiable information.

Lisa spoke about multicultural names as data, drawing on Ethnic Technologies’ expertise as the leading multicultural marketing data provider. Precisely capturing names yields actionable, inclusive data, and the ability to better connect with multicultural consumers. Together with David Spira, President of Admelora, Lisa explored how his efforts to build a form that captured the names of a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-age audience led him to explore the importance of name data to a large organization.

Lisa and Amy listened to presentations about Swedish names in Kansas, names of the Albanian highlands, and indigenous Mexican name usage in California. This sharing of onomastic insights continues to enhance the E-Tech product suite.

Next year, onomasticians and linguists alike will congregate again at the American Name Society Conference which will be held in New York, New York!

The Ancestry Answer I Wouldn’t Have Expected: American

Written by Damon Amador

If you’re an American traveling in another country, and someone asks you what nationality you are, you’d probably say you’re an American. If someone asks you that in the US, however, you’d probably fall back onto your ancestry, talking about the nationalities of the two sides of your family. That’s not true for everyone; according to the American Community Survey (ACS), there are communities of Americans that are much more likely to answer “American” both times.

Many people in the US say that they have American ancestry (not Native American, just, American). Several counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and Florida report as high as 40-50% American when answering the ACS question, “What is [your] ancestry or ethnic origin?” Why is this? Did some people forget their ancestors? Or did they simply lose their heritage culture in favor of an American one?

There’s an interesting parallel story in Mexico. Mestizo was a term originally used to identify mixed race Mexicans during colonial times. This took a turn in the early 1900s, when the Mexican government promoted a “Mestizo identity” to unify the country and its people. The word became more of a cultural identity than a biological one, with the majority of present day Mexican citizens identifying themselves as such.

Will the US one day also have majority reporting American Ancestry? The numbers have been slowly rising each year, going from 20 million in 2011 to nearly 23 million in 2015. Still, unless there are big changes to the country, the chances are slim. One thing that makes the United States unique is that it has been a destination for immigrants throughout most of its history. Migrants have come in waves from different parts of the world, preventing the heritage of the country from becoming static. Even as of 2015, the US population is nearly 15% immigrants, compared to about 1% in Mexico. With such strong migrant populations in the country, a lot of importance ends up being put in our ancestry and heritage. I know I’m American, but my ancestry is Irish and Cuban. With only 7% of the country reporting as American, I think it’s safe to say that most people here think in a similar way.

A Peak Inside Hindu Name Origins: Caste-based Surnames

Written by Amy Franz

In the United States, we don’t have castes, but these historical cultural divisions can still denote our identities. Asian Indians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States and Canada. They bring with them diverse surnames indicating differences in religion, language, and culture, and frequently stemming from an inherited social system from across the globe.

The caste system is a form of social stratification where, historically, Hindu Indians were grouped by their occupation within society. When these people adopted surnames, they turned to the caste system as a means to obtain a family name, thereby adopting names related to a distant ancestor’s occupation.
In the Indian caste system, there are four different varnas, or the major social classes, that caste-based surnames generally fall under.

The Brahmins form the top of this social hierarchy. This class consists of the intellectuals, teachers, and priests. A couple examples of Brahmin surnames are BHAT, ‘scholar’ in Sanskirt, and MUKHERJEE.
Next are Kshatriyas¸ the warriors at times of war and governors at times of peace. Names such as PUSAPATI and KOTHAPALLI are both Kshatriya surnames. SINGH, primarily a Punjabi Sikh surname meaning ‘lion’ in Sanskrit, was also adopted by the Hindu Kshatriya varna since the name alludes to the characteristics of a warrior.

Under the Kshatriyas are the Vaishyas, the farmers, traders, and merchants. Families with the names AGRAWAL, KHANDELWAL, and MAHAWARS all fall under this varna.

The last major social class of the caste system is the Shudras. The Shudras are the community’s laborers, performing numerous different service jobs. PATEL, YADAV, and KURMI are a few of surnames historically associated with the Shudra working class.

The Indian caste system is a complex part of Hindu culture and this only touches the surface of its intricacies. There are many subcategories that fall under the umbrella of the four major varnas, many more names, and even more spelling variations.

While there is rich cultural significance in these Hindu surnames, it is important to highlight the fact that once these families immigrate to the United States or Canada, they are not defined by these social classes. That said, their surnames come from a rich historical context which directly influences how Asian Indians interact with and respond to marketing.