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Time to consider the HENRYs. They're the ones with the money---almost

By Dian Vujovich

Luxury retailers, and all sellers of big ticket items be they vehicles, yachts or hedge funds, listen up: If you haven’t already heard of the HENRYs it’s time. That’s the acronym for the “High-Earning, Not Rich Yet” crowd who take home between $100,000 and $250, 000 a year.

Okay, so this group isn’t bringing home gazillions, and if they’ve a family to feed aren’t likely to have much if any money left over every month, right now. But on the other hand, they just may be among the up and coming richies of tomorrow.

“Luxury brands are chasing people with incomes of $250,000 and above,” says Pam Danziger, founder of luxury-market research firm Unity Marketing, in a recent Yahoo! advertising blog written by Tom Stein and Tim Devaney “They largely ignore the HENRYs, even though there are 10 HENRY households for every ultra-affluent household.”

The HENRYs are also likely to be no stranger to shopping online or getting buying ideas from the screens be they of the hand-held, lap- or desktop style.

“We’re doing research around the HENRY category and we’re finding that they’re looking at luxury in new ways,” says Yahoo! director of B2B Strategic Insights Edwin Wong. “The economic downturn has been a time of reassessment and reckoning, and consumers we spoke to said they need a reason to buy. There’s a new notion that luxury purchases have to be earned, a reward for something accomplished.”

Reward or not, everyone knows that when buying luxury that buying experience had better be a positive feel-good one if the salesperson would like to see that customer again. That said, offering a client a comfy place to sit, glass of champagne or designer bottle of water is easy to do in retail store setting. Online, however, pampered and feel good experiences are trickier to accomplish.

Wong says: “The online experience sucks the air out of the luxury shopping process—and the online advertising experience is even worse.”

For online retailers wanting to spiff-up their lux sales business and attract everyone from the HENRYs on up, Wong suggests sellers need to consider the five P’s: person, platform, production value, price and placement.

The pros say that when the platform is right, a luxury brand can create whatever kind of emotional environment they’d like online including sensual, personal and seductive ones. How? By using a variety of visuals, sounds and multimedia strategies including video.

We’ll see.

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