Are You a HENRY?

Do you have enough discretionary income to buy mid-range status-symbol products like Ralph Lauren sheath dresses or Coach bags? Are you choosing not to buy those status-symbol products, buying lower-cost sheath dresses from Target’s Lilly Pulitzer line, and otherwise saving or spending your discretionary money?

Congratulations: you might be a Henry.

Henry is the latest acronym to join “yuppie,” “dinks,” and “nimby” as a way to reductively simplify an entire group of people. In this case, “Henry” describes a particular type of adult who has enough money to buy mid-range luxury goods and yet obstinately chooses not to buy them.

Why might a Henry choose not to buy a luxury branded product? Maybe they just don’t like Coach bags. Or maybe, as market research company Unity Marketing Inc. suggests, Henrys do not feel like they are rich enough to justify the expenditure.

It’s right there in the acronym: High Earners Not Rich Yet.

According to BloombergBusiness, Henrys — who generally earn between $100,000 and $250,000 a year — are saving 8.5 percent of their “disposable personal income.” That’s the income they should rightfully be spending on brands, and those brands are hurting:

Not surprisingly, retailers that cater to these buyers have suffered. Ralph Lauren Corp. and Coach Inc. each has missed analysts’ estimates for sales growth in three of the past five quarters.

Those poor brands. People would rather save their money than display it on their body! BloombergBusiness quotes Unity Marketing Inc. president Pam Danzinger: “That’s smart for them, but it’s certainly not good for the economy.”

What if you don’t yet earn $100,000 but want to get in on some of that pejorative acronym action? Business Insider suggests that lower-earning Millennials (it’s always the Millennials) can be Henrys too:

A recent report by Morgan Stanley shows that millennials are spending more on expenses like rent, cellphones, and personal services than young people a decade ago. This leaves less money for buying clothes and accessories.
Macy’s CFO Karen Hoguet blamed Netflix for her brand’s slow sales.

The message is clear: your money is not fully yours to spend. At every income level there is a corresponding retailer whose labels you are mandated to wear at all times, and if you choose not to wear those labels (say, by spending your evenings watching Netflix while wearing a pair of worn-out Old Navy sweatpants), you must be feeling financially insecure. No other reason.

So. Are you a Henry?