HENRY: The Demographic to Watch

High Earners Not Rich Yet make up 25 percent of U.S. households but account for 40 percent of spending.

Amy McIntosh
11/11/2020
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deagreez - stock.adobe.com
deagreez - stock.adobe.com

Have you heard of HENRY? Coined by luxury marketing expert Pam Danziger, this group of High Earners Not Rich Yet make up 25 percent of U.S. households but account for 40 percent of spending. We asked Danziger what designers and retailers need to know about this influential demographic group and how they can best serve them. 

Who Are HENRYs? 

HENRYs comprise a soon-to-be-affluent group of young people earning between $100,000 and $250,000 per year. According to Danziger, there are currently approximately 34 million HENRYs in the U.S., compared with 4.6 million ultra-affluent households (those earning more than $250,000 annually). This makes HENRYs an influential up-and-coming demographic for home furnishings retailers — particularly luxury retailers — to keep an eye on.

Nearly 80 percent of HENRYs have a college degree, Danziger says, and most of them have a forward-thinking attitude and plan for their lives. They’ve made certain decisions about their lifestyles that have landed them in the HENRY group, and often that includes buying homes and starting families. 

“We really need to understand that people reach their highest level of income and they also reach the life stage where they spend the most money on home furnishings from 35 to about 55 years old,” Danziger says. “Thirty-five-year-olds are Millennials today. Fashion or furniture retailers should always be focused on that age demographic. Different generations move in and out of it. We had Baby Boomers 20 years ago, and then Gen Xers, and now it’s definitely Millennials.”

What They Want

So what do HENRYs want from the home furnishings retail experience? 

First and foremost, Danziger says, this group wants respect. 

“I think many times, particularly with a higher-end retailer, when they see a younger couple come in, they just don’t take them as seriously as a middle aged couple with some gray hair and some seasoning,” she says. “And I think that is a huge turnoff because young Millennial HENRYs have plenty of money to spend, they are ready to spend, and they don’t want to be treated like second class customers just because they’re in sneakers and a hoodie, and are dressed very casually and look, frankly, very young.”

Though this group may be young, many of them grew up in the dawn of the internet. They remember a time when smartphones and the internet were not the norm, but they are tech savvy enough to use them with ease. This means they expect cutting-edge digital technology when it comes to their shopping experiences, even if they do end up completing their purchase in-store.

“Furniture retailers really need to lean into online engagement and understand HENRYs may not make their purchases online, but they certainly do their research before they show up in your showroom,” Danziger says. ”So you really need to be there presenting a contemporary, modern face to these Millennial HENRYs.” Danziger recommends a website redesign every one to two years. Anything longer than that, she says, will put retailers behind the 8 ball when it comes to keeping up with the speed of the internet and meeting expectations of HENRY consumers. 

HENRY is the influential consumer retailers need to be prepared to serve. By staying up-to-date with technology and not discounting Millennial spending power, luxury home furnishings retailers can be ready for this emerging demographic group as its members reach their peak spending power.

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